Advice for parishes, schools and Catholic organisations has been issued by the Bishops' Conference of England regarding coronavirus.
At this time, risk to individuals is low. The following is information on practical steps which parishes can take to limit the spread of the virus:
1. Ensure everyone maintains good hygiene especially at Mass and parish gatherings.
The best way of protecting us from spread is for everyone to use universal good hygiene, which will effectively disrupt spread of the virus. Remember to:
- Catch it - sneeze into a tissue
- Bin it – bin the tissue
- Kill it – wash your hands with soap and water
- Do not touch your face unless you’ve washed your hands
2. Ask anyone with cold or flu symptoms to refrain from taking communion from the Chalice and receive the host on the hand only. (We should be doing this anyway, every ‘flu season.)
3. Ensure good regular cleaning of surfaces lots of people touch regularly.
4.Consider asking everyone attending Mass to sanitise their hands as they come into church using sanitized gel dispensers (make these available in porches or entrances).
5. Ensure ministers of the Eucharist sanitise their hands before and after distributing communion (we should be doing this anyway as a matter of course.) This can be done by washing hands discreetly before proceeding to the sanctuary or using good quality hand gel discreetly.
- Remember to use good hand washing and gel use technique. You can find more here https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/best-way-to-wash-your-hands/ and a poster here https://www.who.int/gpsc/5may/resources/posters/en/
6. There is no need as things stand for the Chalice to be withdrawn of sign of peace suspended, such as was advised during the 2009 ‘flu pandemic. This advice would only come if we had a very serious epidemic in the UK and at the time of writing this is unlikely.
7. When visiting parishioners at home, wash hands before giving the sacraments. No pastoral visits to people who are self-isolating until isolation ends. However do offer phone support.
Further information and a detailed guide are available on the Bishops' Conference website at https://www.cbcew.org.uk/home/our-work/health-social-care/coronavirus-guidelines/
This information will be updated regularly as circumstances change. Please check this page regularly for updates.