PARISH COVID MEASURES: UPDATE
On 2nd August, the First Minister will most probably announce some changes to Covid restrictions that are to take effect from 9th August. They will probably also affect Sunday worship. Two weeks ago, I announced that, unless any changes announced meant that we could return, more or less, to normal, we would retain the current regime we have in both parishes. The purpose of that decision was simply to avoid confusing people with incremental changes every time the authorities of the state and the church made this or that change.
I realise that I am now anticipating somewhat the First Minister’s statement, but I do it since I will be out of the parish on the Sunday subsequent to 9th August. I think it important to put a provisional plan in place in advance, both to enable me to explain it from the sanctuary for these next two weeks and to avoid placing the responsibility for any changes that might need to happen on someone else’s shoulders.
Therefore, in consultation with the Covid teams of both parishes, I have decided as follows:
- Until and unless the First Minister dispenses both with all social distancing and the cap on the number of people allowed to attend an “ordinary church service” like Mass, our current parish system will continue to remain in place.
- If, however, the First Minister does dispense from both of these things simultaneously, effective 9th August, then there will be no limit to the number of those who can come to Mass from Monday 9th August inclusive, bar the physical capacity of the church itself.
Nevertheless, since Track and Trace will most probably remain in place after 9th August, you will still have to book your place for Mass so that we have the contact details of everyone present. This then means that your name will still have to be, beforehand, on the list of attendees held by the steward monitoring the church door for each Mass you have booked.
In this regard, booking your place will not now be such a trial since there is no limit to the number allowed in. You will still have, in Largs, three evenings to make your booking (Wed, Thurs, Fri, 6-8pm) on 07398 109 094. In Millport, the booking times are Mon-Thurs, 7-9pm, and the number is 07795 476 514.
I strongly urge parishioners not to just turn up at the door, thinking that you can just give your details when you get to the church. This puts an immense burden on the door steward if a number of people decide to do this; and if one person does it you know what will happen next! It also slows down entrance into the church which, in inclement weather, means that people might get soaked. So, please be courteous and phone to book at the usual times.
Other basic measures of safety will remain in place. Face masks must still be worn from before entering until leaving the church. Hands must still be sanitised in the church porch. You may sit inside the church where you wish, although common sense suggests that, where possible, we don’t sit too close to those who are outside our normal circle. People who wish to sing along to any hymns are allowed to do so, but must keep their masks on. Collection baskets will still be at the entrance and exit to the main body of the church. For St. Mary’s, while entrance to the church at the beginning of Mass will be by the side door only, exit at the end can also be through the front door.
Like you, I am impatient to get fully back to the freedoms we enjoyed before lockdown, but so long as Track and Trace is in place, we have to have an accurate record of everyone who attends – for your own welfare’s, health’s and possibly life’s sake. Track and Trace is also a solemn reminder that the virus is still very much with us and so the wearing of masks and the sanitising of hands are still very important. With your characteristic good will, I ask you to continue to cooperate with our stewards in their difficult task. Our only wish is to use any new leeway that might be afforded without taking our eye off the safety ball.
I want to thank everyone in advance for reading the above carefully and observing it in the spirit in which it is given. We’ll get there!