Face coverings and singing - an update

By Andy O'Connell, for the Covid team

Face covering in worship

Our Covid working group (details here together with more on our approach to managing Covid-19 risks) met today 21 October. As has been our habit for 18 months now, we reviewed national and local data, and our own activities.

For now, we continue to ask for face coverings to be worn in public worship services and especially in sung worship. 

Read on if you want to know more about why have we made that decision. In coming to that decision (unanimous in the team, by the way) we've asked ourselves a bunch of questions, such as:

  1. Who: number of people? a known group or public event? are they at risk? do they present a risk to others? what concerns do they have? is asymptomatic lateral flow testing (LFT) being done regularly?
  2. What: what are we doing together? singing? physical activities in confined space?
  3. Where: what size is the room, compared the number of people expected? how well ventilated?
  4. Moment: what us going on with COVID-19 in the nation, our region or city? what government guidlelines are in place? what is the public mood?

We continue to ask those questions regularly.

At the present moment, our answers are:

  1. Who: In OCC, we have lots of new people each week.
  2. What: We are singing together, indoors, which continues to be seen as one of the higher risk activities for spreading Covid-19.
  3. Where: The room is large and well-ventilated.
  4. Moment: This week, there is growing concern about the need to implement 'Plan B' (mandatory face coverings and other measures).

In light of that we are of the view that this is not the moment to relax our requirement for face coverings to be worn while moving around the building, and definitely while singing.

Those on stage who remove face coverings are asked to regularly COVID-test, even if vaccinated, and remain several metres from the rest of the congregation.

In case you're interested, we also regularly take advice from a senior member of the county public health team, who is an OCC member.