Places of Worship Covid 19 Guidance
This page was updated on the 19 July 2021
The Government has decided to move to step 4 of the roadmap. The pandemic is not over. Cases are increasing rapidly and a third wave is underway. Step 4 does not mark the end of the need for caution and restraint. It is important to remember the pandemic is not over. Cases are currently rising, as are hospitalisations. Cases, hospitalisations and, sadly, deaths, will rise further as society and the economy reopen. Lifting Coronavirus restrictions does not mean that the risks from COVID-19 have disappeared. Vigilance must be maintained and people will be asked to make informed decisions and act carefully and proportionately, to manage the risks to themselves and others.
For more information see HM Government COVID-19 Response Summer 2021.
Carrying out risk assessments
Businesses still have a legal duty to manage risks to those affected by their business. The way to do this is to carry out a health and safety risk assessment, including the risk of COVID-19, and to take reasonable steps to mitigate the risks you identify. Many control measures that have been in place previously were there due to health and safety legislation rather than the specific coronavirus legislation. It remains very important to implement suitable control measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 between employees and members of the public.
When undertaking your risk assessment you must have regard to the available guidance. Following the guidance is not compulsory, unless specifically stated, and you are free to take other action, so long as the same level of protection is achieved. But if you do follow the guidance you will normally be doing enough to comply with the law. Health and safety inspectors seek to secure compliance with the law and may refer to guidance. Failure to implement suitable control measures may lead to formal action being taken against the duty holder(s).
For more information on COVID-19 risk assessments see HSE - coronavirus.
It is also important to remember that your risk assessment and subsequent controls will be influenced by:
- the prevalence of COVID-19 in the general population of Preston
- the numbers of people in Preston who have received their vaccine
- the demographics of your customers (Age, general health etc).
When the prevalence of COVID-19 in the general population is considered high then businesses will be expected to implement stricter control measures. When the prevalence of COVID-19 is lower in the general population then fewer or less strict control measures maybe acceptable.
High COVID-19 cases in Lancashire and stricter control measures
Currently the prevalence of COVID-19 in the population of Preston and Lancashire is very high and businesses will be expected to have more and stricter control measures. These include:
- Asking staff and customers to clean their hands regularly
- Cleaning surfaces that people touch regularly
- Reducing unnecessary contact in the workplace, where it is practical. This means ensuring different groups of customers remain separate and keeping employees working in bubbles etc
- Ensuring that all indoor spaces are well ventilated (ensuring windows and doors are opened) and utilising outdoor space where practical
What are places of worship?
A place of worship refers to a building used for regular religious ceremonies, communal worship or similar gatherings by religious organisations.
It includes the use of surrounding grounds, for example, adjoining car parks, courtyards or gardens for which the venue managers are also responsible.
The guidance also covers premises when being used for religious gatherings, even when their primary purpose is not for religious gatherings, such as a community centre. These premises will only be able to be used where they are permitted to be open and additional guidance may be applicable.
Guidance for places of worship
This guidance is designed to be relevant to places were worship occurs. For example:
- Community Centres
The government, in consultation with faith leaders, has produced guidance to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible, this is the HM Government Guidance.
When undertaking your risk assessment you must have regard to the following available guidance:
- GOV.UK - Guidance for the Safe use of Places of Worship
- GOV.UK - Guidance for attending or arranging a funeral during the coronavirus pandemic
- GOV.UK - Protective measures for holiday and after-school clubs, and other out-of-school settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak (Sunday Schools and Madrasas etc)
- GOV.UK - Coronavirus (COVID-19): Wedding and civil partnership ceremonies, receptions and celebrations
Following the guidance is not compulsory, unless specifically stated, and you are free to take other action, so long as the same level of protection is achieved.
If you do follow the guidance you will normally be doing enough to comply with the law. Health and safety inspectors seek to secure compliance with the law and may refer to guidance. Failure to implement suitable control measure may lead to formal action being taken against the duty holder(s).
Posters that all premises should display
- The Church of England - template risk assessment
- Muslim Council of Britain - reopening Mosques and Madras
- The Methodist Church - template risk assessment
- Faith Associates - reopening Mosques and Other Buildings
Frequently Asked Questions
Do worshippers have to wear a face covering?
A face covering is something which safely covers your mouth and nose. Face coverings are no longer required by law. However, the government expects and recommends that people continue to wear face coverings in crowded, enclosed spaces. Where worn correctly, this may reduce the risk of transmission to themselves and others. Be aware that workers may choose to wear a face covering in the workplace.
Consider encouraging, for example through signage, the use of face coverings by worshippers and workers, particularly in indoor areas where they may come into contact with people they do not normally meet. This is especially important in enclosed and crowded spaces. When deciding whether you will ask workers or customers to wear a face covering, you would need to consider the reasonable adjustments needed for staff and clients with disabilities.
You would also need to consider carefully how this fits with other obligations to workers and customers arising from the law on employment rights, health and safety and equality legislation.
Can worshippers sing?
There are no limits on the number of people who can sing or perform indoors or outdoors. However, some activities can also increase the risk of catching or passing on COVID-19. This happens where people are doing activities which generate more particles as they breathe heavily, such as singing, dancing, exercising or raising their voices.
The risk is greatest where these activities take place when people are in close contact with others, for example in crowded indoor spaces where people are raising their voices. Therefore it would be prudent to ensure that groups of worshipper remain socially distanced and that you have good ventilation, open windows and doors!
Do I have to take down personal details for Test and Trace?
Being able to identify and trace persons who maybe infectious remains a top priority for the government. Hospitality venues are strongly encouraged to display an official NHS QR code poster. Although not legally required to do so, this will support NHS Test and Trace to contact those who may have been exposed to COVID-19 so that they can book a test. You can generate an NHS QR code poster online, to enable individuals to check in using the NHS COVID-19 app. You should also have a system in place to record contact details for those who do not have the app. Test and Trace Register Template [253.4KB]
Can we have coffee mornings?
Yes, you should follow the guidance on our Advice for licensed premises selling alcohol - COVID-19 pages.