Overriding Principles to Planning within local Churches
We wish to highlight two key principles to any planning work being undertaken locally:
- “The overriding priority remains to save lives”
This is a quote in the forward to HM Government’s Covid-19 strategic planning document ‘Our Plan to Rebuild’ (12th May 2020) – this must be at the heart of any planned use of church property.
- Communicate and Co-operate
The implementation of any local strategy will be based upon good communication between all parties and working together in partnership. This second principle will support the best outcomes for the first principle.
Summary of Connexional Guidance
Below is a summary of the guidance which is provided to give ‘headline’ decisions in relation to elements of the policy changes affecting churches. Please note the following general points though:
- Church property still remains closed, other than designated activites or for weekly inspections.
- Only the relevant parts of a church property affected by these changes should be reopened.
- This guidance may not affect all churches and therefore some existing guidance still remains.
As government guidance is constantly being reviewed and updated, please refer to www.gov.uk/coronavirus . The teams will continue to review the guidance regularly and provide updates or FAQ’s over the coming weeks.
Planning & Preparing to Re-opening Churches
As we look forward to re-opening our churches, the Methodist Church has issued advice with a checklist for re-opening as well as conducting a COVID-19 assessment. Information is below as well as forms that you will need to download. Below are important points for consideration and action, but much more information can be found on the Methodist Website Coronavirus Guidance for Property
For those settings that host pre-schools that are considering starting up in June, there will be advice from the Methodist Church shortly.
If your church is listed, please refer to Historic England's How to Clean Historic Surfaces. If historic items, such as stained glass, need to be cleaned, please contact the Conservation Officer for guidance.
Other key questions to consider
SHOULD A RECORD BE KEPT OF THOSE ENTERING THE BUILDING?(Updated 19th May) Yes, you should set up a register track who enters the building. Hand sanitiser and/or hand-washing facilities should be easily accessible as well as sanitising wipes for cleaning surfaces. You can also ask people to bring their own pen. Also see Point 8 of the
Re-opening of a building checklist
WHILE THE CHURCH IS EMPTY, IS IT POSSIBLE TO CARRY OUT A DEEP CLEAN?
Yes, the current government guidelines now allow for cleaning to take place.
If the building is listed, please refer to Historic England's How to Clean Historic Surfaces. If any historic items, such as stained glass, need to be cleaned, please contact the Conservation Officer for guidance.
Click here to view the government's guidelines on cleaning during Covid-19.
Property Projects & Repairs
Government policy is encouraging the construction industry to restart activities, on that basis, it is now acceptable for churches to consider undertaking maintenance, repairs and building projects. This must only occur if the works can meet the strict guidance for social distancing and the safety of workers and church members. Please refer to the Construction Advice during Covid-19 as it covers a different of areas of construction, together with other factors that trustees need to consider in discussion with their professional advisors and contractors.