Tomorrow will be our first Sunday worship in Tier 3, and the wardens and I feel that we should change some of the procedures to take account of the increased rate of infection that we are now sadly experiencing in Chippenham. And I did promise at the start, that if the local situation changed, we would adjust what we do accordingly.
We’re so thankful that no one from our regular congregation has had Covid so far, and we absolutely want to keep it that way! So the short time between now and when our vulnerable folk have all been immunised is crucial.
Several of our congregation have had their first jab, and from 2 weeks after, are thankfully safe. The second jab extends the length of immunity, but the first gives you full protection. Don’t be discouraged by the inaccurate media reports about needing a second jab before you gain immunity – you don’t.
Clearly, everyone must make their own decision about how to adjust to this increase in local infections, and we will entirely respect your choice and try to provide appropriate worship for everyone.
For those who come to St Andrew’s, these are the changes we would ask you to adhere to strictly:
Wear a mask to enter church, pick up bread (if needed), service sheets and pewsheet and go directly to a seat. Seats have been spread out further, so you may not be able to sit where you customarily do. If you are able to still bring your own piece of bread, that will help the flow on entry.
If you choose, you may then remove your mask whilst seated, as in a restaurant.
There will be no taking of names, and your name cards are not now needed, as we will simply take a photo of the whole congregation at the beginning of the service. This will be on an ordinary camera, not a smartphone, so it won’t get onto the internet! Nor will it be looked at or printed unless we are alerted to a positive case and need to ask those seated adjacent to self-isolate. Visitors and newcomers whose names we might not know, will be asked to write name and phone number on a piece of paper themselves.
Sidespersons will not therefore stand by the doors, and you should not stop to talk to anyone until seated.
Singers will continue to lead our hymns for us, but will be further spaced out, and please, no singers over the age of 70 for the present, unless you have had your jab at least 2 weeks previously. The congregation are now asked not to sing even quietly for the time being.
At the end of the service, please put your mask back on and leave immediately (unless you have a task to perform in tidying up) and use the doors nearest to you – so north aisle through the north door, south through south, and nave through the glass doors. Please, no stopping to chat or socialise until you are outside. I will go out immediately after each service so that you can find me outside if you need to.
I’m sorry if these measures seem a bit draconian after the relatively relaxed “new normal” we’ve been getting used to, but cases in St Mary Street and Causeway make it clear that the virus is close, and cases in nursing homes that have been following very strict procedures, make it clear that it is now extremely infectious. We don’t want to fall at the last fence when we have all endured so much to keep everyone safe.
Thank you and God bless