Easing of Lockdown Restrictions
Please note that the strict rules below have been modified to provide a modest degree of easing with effect from Sunday 25th July 2021. The Rector's letter dated 22nd July 2021 (see below) describes the relaxations applied at that time.
Any more recent changes are normally summarised on the Welcome page.
St Michael’s Re-opening for Public Worship
We are pleased to announce that, from 4th April 2021, the church will re-open for short communion services at the following times:
- Sunday 8:00am
- Sunday 10:00am* — live-streamed on the internet
- Sunday 6:30pm
Because of the continuing risk of COVID-19, we hope that you will understand that there need to be strict rules around this to keep everyone safe. Here is what you need to know before you come to our Sunday services, and what to expect while you are with us:
- Please only visit if you and those you live with are well. If you have any COVID-19 symptoms, however minor, or if you are self-isolating because a member of your household has shown symptoms, PLEASE STAY AWAY.
- Please follow the government’s guidance on respiratory hygiene (see posters) and dispose of any tissues you use in the bins provided.
- [Social Distancing rules - relaxed from 25th July 2021 - "Please maintain a social distance of at least 2m from others at all times."]
- If you wish to ensure social distancing during the service, please sit in the North or South aisles where only alternate pews are in use. You can also ask the Sidespersons for a card to request that the space next to you on the pew is left unoccupied.
- Please sanitise your hands on arrival, before and after communion, and when you leave, and try to limit what you touch while you are in the church.
- [Pre-booking of places - Discontinued from 12th September 2021 - "Please be aware that numbers in the church will be strictly limited. If you do not book, we regret that we may not be able to accommodate you."]
- Please bring a face covering (a scarf or similar will be fine if you do not have a mask) and wear it during the service to protect other people. At communion, please keep it on as the bread is placed in your hand, then step to one side before removing it temporarily to consume.
- When you arrive, you will be directed to a seat by one of our volunteers. Please do not sit anywhere else, or move around the building. At communion and at the end of the service, please remain seated until invited to move by a sidesperson, and follow their directions as to the route you should take.
- [Personal Orders of Service - Discontinued from 25th July 2021 - "You will find an order of service on your seat. This is your personal copy - please take it with you, and bring it to future services."]
- [Congregation Singing - Permitted from 25th July 2021 - "We regret that for the time being there can be no singing because of the risk of disease transmission. However, there will be organ music at the 10:00am and 6:30pm services."]
- We regret that for the time being we can’t share wine at communion. Please be assured that, though some of the symbolism may be lost, the sacramental value is not diminished.
- We regret that for the time being you won’t be able to light candles. This is to avoid problems with social distancing in the Lady Chapel.
- To avoid the risk of disease transmission we shall not take a collection during the service. If you would like to make a donation, there are contactless card readers by the exits. You can also scan the QR code in the Order of Service to donate easily by phone, or place cash gifts in the plates provided.
- [After-Service Coffee - Permitted from 1st August 2021 - "We regret that for the time being there can be no refreshments or social time after church, and ask you to leave promptly and avoid gathering in groups at the end of the service."]
- Remember that our volunteers are there to help you. Please ask them if anything is unclear, and follow their directions at all times.
We know that none of this is 'normal', but it is necessary, and we thank you for bearing with us in these extraordinary times. We will be delighted to welcome you despite all the restrictions, and hope that you will enjoy the opportunity to worship God once again in this beautiful, sacred space.
Liz Ratcliffe and the St Michael’s Team.
9th July 2020
(Updated 27th November 2020, 27th March 2021, 2nd July 2021, 25th July 2021, 1st August 2021, 12th September 2021)
* Service time changed from 10:30am to 10:00am on 4 July 2021.
Rector's letter - Easing of Lockdown Restrictions
The Ministry Team, Church Wardens and I met earlier this week to discuss how we, as a church, should respond to the Government’s decision to move to Step 4 of the “Roadmap out of Lockdown”. The approach taken by the Government is to remove most of the COVID-related legal restrictions but to promote guidance that emphasises the responsibility of individuals and organisations for protecting others and themselves.
In our conversations we held in mind the over-riding principle that, as members of the Body of Christ, we are called to love one another and to be responsible to and for one another, respecting especially those who are vulnerable. We were also conscious that Covid rates both nationally and locally are very high and rising, and that though the vaccine has meant hospital admissions and deaths are thankfully far lower than in the previous wave, these are sadly increasing too. Unfortunately, no vaccine is 100% effective, and it is estimated that around one in 10 fully vaccinated people will remain susceptible. There are particular concerns for those who are clinically vulnerable to the virus, as well as those who are, for whatever reason, unable to be vaccinated. This being the case, the Government continues to advise that measures like hand hygiene, social distancing and use of face-coverings in crowded indoor settings remain important for public health, even though they are no longer mandatory.
Whilst we welcome the increased flexibility to make local decisions, the team was unanimous in believing that, against this backdrop, we need to move forward very cautiously. I have therefore concluded that the time is not yet right to make radical changes, though we have agreed that there should be a degree of easing.
From Sunday, 25th July 2021, we shall be adopting the following policies:
Face Coverings Noting that face coverings are largely to benefit others rather than ourselves, and conscious that there are some amongst us with particular vulnerabilities, we are requesting that you continue to wear a face covering during services if you are able.
Social Distancing Seating will no longer be allocated, and you are free to sit with friends if they are happy to sit with you. However, we believe it is important that people can choose to sit apart from others if they wish. To enable this, for the time being (from 12th September 2021) we shall continue to use only alternate pews in the North and South aisles. We shall also be making cards available which can be placed on the seats next to you, asking that they be left empty if that is your preference. Please be ready to give others the space that they need to feel safe.
Booking From 12th September 2021, the requirement to pre-book a seat at services is being discontinued. Please just turn up at any of our regular Sunday / Wednesday services. You may still need to sign in on arrival (for the purposes of tracing contacts).
Singing You are now welcome to join the choir in singing the hymns and Gloria. Singing generates more droplets, and increases the risk of passing on COVID if you are infected, so please keep your face-covering on, as it provides protection for those around you.
Sharing the Peace For the moment we shall continue to remain in our places to share the peace, and encourage you to do this in ways which do not involve physical contact. But please do feel free to exchange a verbal greeting with those around you as well as a wave and a smile if you wish.
Coffee From 1st August, we shall resume serving coffee in the Morlais Room after the 10am service. At this stage, we would encourage you to find a seat/group of friends each week and stick with them, rather than moving around and mingling more freely.
Finally, thank you to everyone who has let me know their views on these various matters – please know that you have been heard, and that I shall continue to bear your voices in mind as the situation evolves. I recognise, of course that some of you will be disappointed that we are not moving faster, but equally I know that there will be some for whom any easing is a source of anxiety. I hope, though, that you will understand how very difficult these decisions are, and accept that I have done my best to steer what I judge to be a sensible course taking into account all the information at my disposal. We shall, of course, be reviewing all of this regularly, and I am keen to take further steps towards normality as soon as it is prudent to do so. In the meantime I ask for your kindness and support towards me and one another as we journey forward together.
With every blessing
The Rev’d Liz Ratcliffe, Rector