Updated Coronavirus Guidance - 17th December
The arrival of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 in Wales is a matter of great concern. Welsh Government has announced new restrictions to come into effect on the 27th December which will make social distancing measures a legal requirement again for certain premises especially shops and offices. We do not yet know whether these will formally apply to places of worship and community buildings and will update this website and guidance as soon as the position is clear.
It is worth stating that there are no new restrictions on activities that can take place but those activities need to be undertaken with even greater care to protect people from transmission. Our current guidance remains relevant and should be reviewed to inform local risk assessments. In particular, careful consideration should be given to re-introducing social distancing.
We urge local churches to carefully review their risk assessment arrangements and continue to follow the guidance published both by the Church in Wales and Welsh Government. Face coverings remain a legal requirement in public buildings including churches. Other mitigation measures such as sanitising, cleaning and social distancing will, generally, form part of a careful Covid risk assessment.
As this is a season of even more gatherings including concerts, we have received clarification from Welsh Government on the issue of Covid passes for concerts etc. The covid pass requirement would not apply to a place of worship or community centre that was showing a film or having a concert etc. This is because it remains a Place of Worship or Community Centre despite occasional use otherwise. Local churches and halls may still choose to require Covid passes for such events, as part of their risk assessment and transmission reduction measures, but this is not a legal requirement.
Welsh Government is strongly advising everyone in Wales to follow these five measures to stay safe:
- Get vaccinated – and if you’ve had your booster appointment, please make attending your priority.
- If you’re going out, going Christmas shopping or visiting people – flow before you go. Take a lateral flow test. If it’s positive – don’t go out.
- Meeting outdoors is better than indoors. If you’re meeting indoors make sure it’s well ventilated.
- Space out your socialising - people are encouraged to leave a day between meeting up with others
- And don’t forget about social distancing, wearing a face covering and washing your hands.
Whilst there is no requirement to cancel activities, it is worth reviewing whether all need to go ahead or whether they can be organised differently to limit transmission risk.
The guidance on face coverings has been strengthened as follows – which is relevant to all occasions, including those in places of worship and faith activities where food and drink are served:
Despite it not being a legal requirement in the following settings, it is strongly advised that both employees and customers wear a face covering indoors. This advice applies unless they are exempt or actively eating, drinking or dancing:
- in hospitality settings such as pubs or nightclubs
- at a wedding, civil partnership or alternative wedding ceremony or reception
Some wedding or hospitality venues might ask you to wear a face covering. They can do this because they have looked at how to manage the risks for their business.
Mixed use venues: Where food or drink is consumed in part of a premises, like a department store cafe, or hotel restaurant, you must wear face coverings on the premises except in the area set aside for eating and drinking.
It is a legal requirement for those responsible for any venue, including places of worship, to have regard to this guidance, so local churches should update their risk assessments to include serious consideration of them.
In England, the regulations on face coverings have now been updated to include permission to remove the covering when singing. No such change has been made in Wales.