Coronavirus Risk Assessment.
Angmering Baptist Church
Use of premises for worship after coronavirus lockdown Risk Assessment
The purpose of this Risk Assessment is:
To prevent the spread of Covid -19 by reducing or controlling potential risks.
To promote the safety of individuals attending Angmering Baptist Church.
To comply with government guidelines for places of worship.
Mr Fenton a Deacon of the church responsible for fabric matters, has organised a full risk assessment in accordance with a reoccupation checklist. He was assisted in this by a member of the church Mr Steve Lyes:
- This included a full church electrical test, including all portable equipment (carried out by contractors).
- Fire safety
- Emergency lighting
- Building security
- Water safety
- Mr Fenton undertook a cleaning checklist carried out in conjunction with our caretaker Mrs Helliwell and this included clarification with about further duties required to help restrict the spread of Coronavirus.
- Mr Fenton will be responsible for implementation the ‘Pre-Event’ Checklist’ recommended by the Baptist Union, in conjunction with other Deacons and the Minister Revd David Barnes.
- The church carpark was swept and outdoor foliage cut back and cleared by several volunteers a week before the first service to be recommenced on the 4th October 2020.
- The church windows were cleaned 2 days before the recommencement date by a window cleaner, and this will take place every 8 weeks following.
Avoiding contact with coronavirus sufferers:
- Persons should not attend church services if they are suffering from raised temperature, new persistent cough, loss of taste or smell or other respiratory infection or if they have had contact with anybody suffering with coronavirus. The church services will continue to be available on printed documents posted to people’s homes and sent via email attachment.
Visitors will be asked to give their name and contact details for purposes of the ‘test and trace’ procedures. They must confirm in writing that they are not suffering from a raised temperature, new persistent cough, loss of taste or smell or have any other respiratory infection or have had any contact with anyone suffering from coronavirus. Details will be retained for 21 days.
- Current Government guidance states that over 70s ‘are advised to stay home as much as possible…’ but the Government is not saying ‘you must not attend’. In other words over 70s need to take into account the risk factors, but if they have and they still wish to attend then they can. However, those clinically vulnerable are ‘advised not to attend places of worship indoors’
- Congestion must be avoided in the entrances, vestibule, aisles, toilets areas or exits. It may be necessary to wait in a socially distanced queue within the church premises until safe to proceed.
- A one-way system will operate to avoid the need to ‘pass’ other worshippers. Attenders go directly from the foyer through the side entrance into the church. There is a sign on the foyer wall to their right indicating where to go. Also there are yellow arrows on the floor to help. Signage provided by Deacon Miss Bickmore.
- The meeting area is limited to the church itself (not the hall or any of the other rooms which are off limits).
- Church Secretary Mrs Wendy Breese and the duty Deacon will keep a register of attenders to fulfil NHS ‘Track and Trace’ requirements. Miss Bickmore will provide consent forms as advised by the Baptist Union.
- Once attenders have entered the church (sanctuary), they find a seat. The rows have been pushed together so there is a correct social distancing from those in front and those behind. These seats are not to be moved.
- To allow proper social distancing from others in their row, attenders must allow a gap of 2 empty chairs. This does not apply when sitting next to people of their own household or ‘bubble’. In practice this means that since there are only 4 seats in a row at the sides, then 2 single individuals would have to sit at each end of the row in order to maintain the 2 seat gap (but 2 or more of one household could use one of those side rows without any gaps). The middle section has longer rows and therefore provides more space, so please make use of this area. There will be a Deacon on hand to in effect be an ‘usher’ to help attenders find appropriate seating should a number of seats have already been taken when they arrive.
- There has also been a children’s area created in one corner.
- The One- way system continues to operate in the church. It loops around the seats at the sides, so attenders are to use the aisles created next to the outer walls to help maintain social distancing.
- Once the service has finished the minister will direct the congregation to leave 1 row at a time. He will begin with the back rows. The one-way system operates here; when attenders leave your seats they will follow the signs on the floor to the back of the church, walk through one of the two doors at the back. They then turn right and exit the building through the entrance/exit in Station Road. They free to talk to others they do not normally meet with once outside but should maintain social distancing
Avoiding cross-contamination from surfaces:
- Hand sanitiser stations will be provided for use on entry and exit and must be used by every attender on entry and exit from the building.
- Bibles or hymn books will be available. Attenders should bring your own Bibles if you wish and hold in their hands. Hymns cannot be sung, neither can we raise our voices to avoid any transfer of possible infection. The minister is allowed to preach using a microphone and lead the service in the normal way.
- Attenders are not permitted at this stage to have tea or coffee after the service.
- To promote efficiency attenders are encouraged to bring with them the devotional notes they would have already received either through your door or by email for that Sunday. In the latter case this could be accessed via mobile or tablet.
- There will be no PA/Audio team in operation at this stage, so the words of the hymns will be on the devotional notes attenders would have received. While we cannot sing the hymns, it is still beneficial to be able to focus on the words and meditate on them in our worship of the Lord. There will be a few extra enlarged copies of the hymn lyrics available for those whose eyesight require it, but the words of hymns/songs will not be projected on to the screen for the time being.
- The Bible reading will also be included in the devotional notes. If time permits there may be opportunity for testimony, but the service length, again for the time being, will be no more than 45 minutes.
- All personal belongings must be removed from seats after each service.
- The kitchen and all potential communal areas will be out of bounds.
- Use of toilets. Attenders are encouraged to use your facilities at home and after the service where possible. However our toilet facilities are open to everyone, but only one at a time in both toilet areas to allow room for safe hand washing. Toilet seats should be wiped after use with the antiseptic wipes available and placed in the bin, not the toilet, hands washed and the paper towels provided or the hand dryer on the wall to dry.
- Door handles and other potential contamination points will be cleaned after each service.
Avoiding airborne transmission of coronavirus:
- Since the 8th August the wearing of face coverings has become mandatory for those who are meeting indoors with people they usually do not meet. So attenders should use a face covering. There are however exemptions clearly indicated by the Government, and these exemptions include but are not limited to the following:
- Children under the age of eleven
- People who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability.
- Where putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress. (This clause has been interpreted by the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to include ‘those with breathing difficulties’ and Asthma UK as those who find it ‘difficult to breathe or causes panic or distress’).
- If you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate.
- A person who is leading a meeting, speaking from the front is also exempt while they do this. The Government give the example of ‘delivering a sermon or prayer in a place of worship’.
- Furthermore the Government says you ‘should not be routinely asked to give any evidence of this, this includes exemption cards.’ and ‘No person needs to seek advice or request a letter from a medical professional about their reason for not wearing a face covering.’
- The Government suggests ‘Some people may feel more comfortable showing something that says they do not have to wear a face covering. This could be in the form of an exemption card, badge (such can be downloaded from the internet) or even a home-made sign.’ But even here the Government states ‘This is a personal choice and is not necessary in law.’
- So then ordinarily attenders should wear a face covering, but if any believe they are exempt on any of the above grounds then they do not. (Social distancing, however, will always apply).
- If an attender has forgotten to bring a face covering, we will have spare ones available.
- Singing and any woodwind musical accompaniment must be avoided. Pre-recorded hymn singing will be provided.
This Risk Assessment will be subject to continuous review in the light of prevailing official guidelines and local circumstances.
Revd David Barnes 1/10/20