The COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly changing situation. We follow government advice closely, updating this page as things change, so please check back regularly.
UPDATED MONDAY 19 OCTOBER 2020
On 12 October, a three-tiered system of local COVID Alert levels was announced. Oxford and Oxfordshire is currently Tier 1.
- We continue to host weekly Sunday services at The King's Centre. (None of the Tiers affect place of worship rules and our our Sunday services.)
- We also continue to stream services for those unable to attend on-site.
- Our Communities are meeting, including online, in homes (as now permitted by Rule of Six in Tier 1), and at The King's Centre.
PLEASE CONTINUE TO FOLLOW GOVERNMENT ADVICE!
In more detail
Our 'COVID working group' includes Trustees and staff with responsibility for events, communication, risk management and safeguarding and meets every 2-3 weeks to consider OCC's response as the situation changes.
- We monitor advice from the government and other sources, including Evangelical Alliance, as well as Safeguarding requirements.
- We also monitor local COVID data on gov.uk and oxfordshire.gov.uk
Full guidance for the reopening of places of worship permits public worship, and has been updated regularly. It applies to public worship at The King's Centre (TKC) (a registered place of worship), and also to other venues we hire.
Why are churches allowed to organise 'public worship' activities while other areas of life face ongoing restriction? The impact of loneliness, anxiety and damage to mental health people are facing in this pandemic is significant. Those making the rules see that church, worship and community is good for people's wellbeing.
Of course, even if we decide to run an activity, every person is in a different situation, and in deciding whether to participate should consider the needs of their household.
In planning worship services under guidance for places of worship we must assess the number of people who can safely gather onsite while safely social distancing, and manage events in a COVID-secure way. We also stream Sunday services for those who cannot attend in person.
There are several aspects to our COVID-secure arrangements (this is a summary of full risk assessment):
- Anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 should not attend onsite: Symptoms include a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss/change in taste/smell. Also, those self-isolating should not attend (being a close contact of a case, or after overseas travel, or otherwise at the request of a medical professional).
- No congregational singing is permitted. We are allowed to be led by a group of up to 6 singers. We are learning how to worship God together without singing.
- No food and drink: For now, we are not able to serve refreshments or allow bring-and-share lunches. We are piloting table service meals for one or two small events, as allowed by regulations.
- Children and youth: Please see below.
- Social distancing observed: The law requires people not to mingle (mixing with other groups). We have a one-way system and socially distanced household seating, and are required to ask you leave the building and grounds promptly after the service.
- Face coverings must be worn in public indoor settings including places of worship (exemptions include health reasons, and those leading the service).
- The building is COVID-secure: The building and toilets will have been cleaned before we arrive. We have a good ventilation system in the Thames Hall which changes the room air regularly, and in other rooms windows will be opened.
- We are required to store visitor records to assist with any track-and-trace. We are checking people into events via ChurchSuite. Pre-booking is not required.
Communities are vital for extended family, care and mutual support in this season.
Under Tier 1, Government advice permits up to 6 people to meet indoors or outdoors, while continuing to socially distance. Communities can gather in smaller groups of up to 6, as they see fit, as well as ongoing meetings by Zoom.
Additionally, place of worship and other guidelines permit Communities and teams to meet in larger groups by booking a room at TKC, via the church office.
Communities are also involved in supporting neighbours and community initiatives. We regularly update our advice on that and also refer to government guidelines on safely helping other people
Youth and children
Rules around what is permitted for youth and children in 'out of school settings' are complex, and tighter than permitted in formal education settings. We reviewed them again in September and noted changes in our risk assessment and working arrangements.
- 0-5s: We reviewed guidance in September, and are of the view that we cannot yet effectively reopen our Sunday creche.
- YR-Y6: For Sunday activities we ask that children have spent at least 1 term in school, as they are more able to comply with distancing requirements. Face coverings are not required for under-11s.
- Y7-Y13: For youth activities on Sundays and Fridays face coverings are required at all times and youth will be in bubbles of no more than 15.
One-to-one meetings, including personal pastoral conversations, can happen in person under the Rule of Six (e.g. in a home or cafe), if mutually agreed.
Our pastoral and administrative staff work flexibly, from home and from TKC as necessary.
Some leadership meetings (staff and volunteers) are now happening, in person at TKC, when necessary, in line with workplace guidance.
Questions or concerns?
If you have any questions about our COVID-secure arrangements, or wish to raise concerns, please email the church office.