Coronavirus Plan B update for churches

New requirements for facemasks at services introduced.

Last updated 10 December 2021

Following the implementation of the Government’s Plan B for England, and more rigorous attempts to limit the spread of the new Covid variant, Omicron, (believed to be more transmissible than the current Delta variant) new requirements for public worship have been introduced from 10 December.

Face masks

Face masks are now legally required to be worn in places of worship, with exemptions for those leading a service or giving a reading and “there is a reasonable excuse exemption which allows people to remove a face covering whilst singing if they wish to do so.”

The usual exemptions, familiar from earlier this year, continue for those unable to wear masks.

The ability to sing whilst not wearing a mask is a direct contradiction to the previous guidance, which suggested that masks should be worn when singing, but could be removed at other times in public worship. This element is confusing, and CTE’s General Secretary suggests that maximum safety is ensured when masks are worn at all times, and we will wait to see if the current guidance is revised in the short term.

COVID Passes

The NHS COVID pass will not be a requirement for attendance at public worship, weddings, funerals and other ceremonies that mark key life events. However, receptions which take place after such events, such as wedding receptions, will need to comply with the new requirements to provide a Covid pass only where 500 or more people are involved.

Other elements of guidance, such as ensuring good ventilation in places of worship, hand sanitizing and avoiding attendance if showing even mild symptoms associated with viral infections until a negative Covid test rules out Covid-19, continue to apply.