Covid-19 Risk Assessment

Orthodox Church of the Nativity of the Mother of God,

University Road, BS8 1SP

 

COVID-19 Pandemic Risk Assessment –

Opening the Church Building for Public Worship

 

Parish Council – June 2020,updated 2 January 2021

 

 

 

Potential Hazard

Analysis of risk

Risk Control Measures

Review of Control

People

 

 

 

 

 

1.       The coronavirus is carried by people and principally transmitted by exhaled airborne droplets but can also be transmitted by touching contaminated surfaces and transferring the virus to mouth, nose or eyes.

2.       The degree of risk cannot be quantified –  people can be contagious without experiencing any symptoms and may therefore enter the building and spread the virus unknowingly.  The incidence of the virus in the community can change rapidly so the statistical likelihood of a contagious person entering the church building changes from week to week.

3.       People visiting the church building may not be aware of the specific measures that need to be taken in the building to minimise the risk of infection for themselves and others

Email communications with parish members will emphasise precautions which must be taken within the church building.

In addition, every time the building is open to the public:

1.       There must be a prominent notice at the entrance in English, and preferably also Russian and Romanian, to inform visitors of the guidelines that should be observed whilst in the building including wearing masks;

 

 

2.       There must be at least 1 volunteer present to supervise the session and ensure that the guidelines are understood and followed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.       If anybody is experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 or has been instructed to self-isolate, they should not enter the church building but remain at home and follow government instructions for self-isolation.

4.       People must wear masks covering their mouths and noses and stay 1m+ away from all other people at all times unless they are from the same household.

 

 

 

 

 

5.       People over the age of 70 are advised to stay at home.

6.       People should use hand sanitiser located on the candle table on entering the building. Masks and disposal bags will also be available.

 

7.       Food and drink will not be available in the building.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.       Notices have been placed on the door and also on the candle desk.

 

 

 

 

2.       Volunteer ushers are members of the Parish and the rota is on a shared Google document. In the unlikely event of no regular usher being available, the priest will make the contact tracing list available and ask a member of the congregation to take  details.

 

 

3.       The Terms & Conditions of the online booking form make clear that anybody who feels unwell should not attend church.

 

4.       An online booking system is in place and an usher is at the door to ensure that no more than the 24 households are admitted to the buildng at any one time. Places 1.5 metres apart have been marked on the floor and benches with hazard tape.

5.       This advice has been given.

 

6.       Sanitiser is available on two tables on entry to the building, and masks and bags are on at least one of them.

7.       The kitchenette is closed.

Door handles and lightswitches

The virus may be present on door handles and switches if touched by a person carrying the virus.

Sanitise door handles and rail outside the front porch before opening the building, and leave all entrance doors open for the session unless the heating is on (which creates vigorous convection currents), also wedge open the back door for access to the toilet.  If people need to use the toilet, the toilet door handles, flush handles and taps should be wiped with 70% alcohol wipes, which are then disposed of in a dedicated bin.  Doorhandles, switches and the rails outside the front door should be wiped on closing the building.

Volunteer ushers are responsible for this.

Surfaces

The virus may be present on surfaces if touched by a person carrying the virus.

People should avoid touching surfaces in the the church. Surfaces that are regularly used, such as the candle table and candlestands, should be regularly wiped with 70% alcohol wipes which are disposed of in a dedicated bin. 

Volunteer ushers are responsible for this.

Icons

The virus may be transferred to the surface of icons if touched or kissed by a person carrying the virus.

People may bow in reverence before icons as they pray, but must not touch or kiss the surface as we have no way of cleaning and sanitising icons without risk of damage to them.

Written reminders are on the door and candle desk.

Paper/leaflets/ service books/merchandise

The virus may be present on surfaces if touched by a person carrying the virus.

Remove all leaflets from display.  Cover service books in the choir area bookshelf so they are not visible.  Remove any other service folders from view.  Either remove all merchandise from display and place in the cupboards at the base of the display cabinet or quarantine in the base of the display cabinet any merchandise that has been handled and not sold.  See also risk control measures for handling cash and for surfaces.

 

Cash

Coins and notes may be contaminated with the virus if handled by a person carrying the virus within the previous 72 hours.

People must sanitise their hands immediately after handling cash, and before picking up candles or handling anything else.

Encourage people to donate electronically.

Any cash in the donations box is quarantined in the safe.  The person collecting the money from the box sanitises their hands after doing so.

Virgin Giving set up for cashless donations.

Holy Water dispenser

The virus may be present on surfaces if touched by a person carrying the virus.

People may collect holy water in their own containers.  The dispenser should be wiped with 70% alcohol wipes afterwards which are disposed of in a dedicated bin.

Volunteer ushers are responsible for this.

Singers

Normally the music would be sung by a choir standing in close proximity to each other.  Risk of transmission of the virus in exhaled air.  Risk of transmission of virus as many people handle the music folders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choir Singing

There will now only be two singers and only one will sing at any one time.  The singers will be positioned behind screens and at least 2 metres away from any other members of the congregation. 

Each service now will have a dedicated folder for each of the two singers: one for Sunday liturgies, one for Festal liturgies, one for Saturday vespers and one for Festal vespers.  Each folder will be updated at least 72 hours after and no less than 72 hours before it will next be used.

 

As and when regulations permit, a choir of no more than 5 people may sing from behind screens at the front left side of the church.  The singers will each have their own music stand and will be positioned in a line 2m apart with the exception of the choir leader who will face them from behind a clear screen.  Choir members will need to arrive before the beginning of the service and will not be able to leave the choir for the duration of the service apart from to receive communion. 

 

Proskomedia

The prosphora used are placed beforehand on a wooden bread board.   The priest handles the prosphora, which are subsequently cut up and given to the people as antidoron.   The Communion portion (the “Lamb”) and other portions are cut from the prosphora with a knife (the “Lance”) held by the priest and placed on the Diskos.   Risk of contamination via surfaces and things held by the priest.  

(1) Before the service the priest will sanitize his hands and then, using a 70% alcohol wipe, will sanitize the large bread board, the small bread board (used later for cutting the bread for communion), the top of the diskos and the lance.   The lance will be placed on the large bread board.

(2) After vesting, before starting the Proskomedia the priest will sanitize his hands before picking up the Lance.

 

Holy Communion: Prosphora

This refers to small loaves of bread which would normally be purchased by the faithful at the candle desk and put onto a common plate with a paper list, often written out with paper and pens provided, of names of the living and the dead for commemoration.  The bread and the lists would be taken into the altar and pieces cut out of each loaf for inclusion in the communal Communion cup.  Risks: the virus could be spread by sharing pens, a communal supply of paper, on the paper lists and by and to anybody who handled the loaves.

The faithful are now asked to come to church with their lists already written.  The shared paper and pens have been removed.  The loaves are not available at the candle desk.  The lists are taken into the altar area by a server who has sanitised his hands before picking up the paper lists.  The server takes the lists into the altar area and leaves them on the side table for the Priest.  The server then sanitises his hands again.  The Priest  then places the paper lists separately on the Table of Preparation, sanitises his hands and cuts the necessary pieces out of the loaves and makes the commemorations. After each prosphoron is cut, and the commemorations made, it is put into a separate transparent plastic bag, which is then placed on top of the relevant list.  The bags and lists are then put on a tray to be available for the faithful to collect after the service. The Priest then sanitises his hands again.

 

Censer

The censer is normally handled by the server and the priest, with the server taking it to the priest each time that it is needed.

While the censer and its chains are made of brass, which has a high copper content, and copper is well known to be a powerful anti-microbial, killing any virus or bacteria coming in contact with it, this action takes some time (one to six hours) and so there is need to reduce the risk of cross contamination during the service.

The censer stand will be placed mid way between the priest’s normal position in front of the Holy Table and the server’s table to the side.

The server will only handle the bottom of the censer (the bowl and the lid) in order to replenish charcoal and incense as necessary.  

The priest will only handle the top of the censer in order to removes it from its stand, use it, and replace it on its stand.

(Should we have a deacon, then this procedure will need to be looked at as both priest and deacon use the censer at different times.)

 

Holy Communion (1)

The priest handles the Lamb for the elevation (“Holy things for the holy”), to break the Lamb into four pieces, to place one of these pieces in the chalice, and to cut the remaining pieces for communion of the clergy (if there are additional clergy receiving communion) and for communion of the people.

(1) Before the elevation the priest will sanitize his hands.

(2) Before cutting up the pieces for communion the priest will sanitize the Lance using a 70% alcohol wipe.

 

Holy Communion (2)

The bread and wine of Holy Communion is administered to the faithful with a spoon into the mouth from a communal cup. A server holds a cloth beneath the communicants’ chins to catch any drips and wipe their lips.  Risks:

1.       People standing too close as they queue for Communion.

2.       The priest receives Communion before the congregation by drinking from the communal cup.

3.       Transmission of the virus via the spoon into the cup if a communicant is infected with Covid-19, and to all subsequent communicants.

 

4.       Transmission of the virus via the cloth held by the server.

5.       Proximity of the priest and the communicants during the administration of Communion

We recognise that the Government advice is to administer holy communion as bread only direct into the hands of communicants.  We are putting the following measures in place to mitigate the risks:

 

 

1.       The usher will remind people to maintain social distance in the queue for Communion.

       

 

 

3.       Communicants are asked to open their mouths wide so that the spoon does not touch their mouths or lips.  The spoon is cleansed between communicants by wiping with a 70% alcohol wipe and rinsing in water.

4.       The server holds the cloth to catch any drips but will not wipe people’s lips.

5.       This is for a very short space of time and would not be counted a significant risk.

 

 

Holy Communion: Antidoron

This refers to the portion of the bread from the Lamb which is not put into the communal Communion cup, but is cut into pieces for each communicant to take and eat after participation in Communion.  Normally each communicant would take a piece from a tray and also take a sip of wine from a shared cup.  Risk: that the virus could be spread from the hands of any communicant to pieces of bread that are subsequently taken by somebody else.  Risk of spreading the virus through the shared wine cup.

There will be no shared wine cup with the antidoron.  The server will sanitise his hands, wipe the cutting board and the bread knife using a 70% alcohol wipe, and cut up the bread, putting each portion into a clean plastic bag and putting the bags onto a tray for the communicants to take after Communion.

 

Kissing the cross at the end of the Liturgy

Normally people would kiss a cross held by the priest at the end of the service.

At the end of the service, the priest stands back and the congregation pass by and bow as the priest blesses them with the cross.

Works well

Confession, when regulations permit

Would normally involve the penitent kissing the Cross and the Gospel and standing close enough to the priest so both can hear quiet speech. At the end the priest would bless the penitent and the penitent would kiss the priest’s hand.

Both priest and penitent must wear face coverings to cover mouth and nose.  The penitent bows but does not kiss the Gospel and the Cross.  At the priest’s blessing, the priest’s hand is not available to be kissed, and the penitent bows instead.

 

Adult Instruction when regulations permit

Potential Hazards:

Spread of Covid 19

 

 

 

As attendees will be socially distanced in church for the service anyway, the extra risk from the class will be low

 

·       Participants will sit 2 metres from each other

·       Participants will wear masks

·       Participants will not be able to consume food or drinks

·       Participants will be told to leave immediately after the class

·       There will be no handouts or other physical materials given to students

·       A list of people enrolled will be kept by Cuthbert McGrath, and attendance will be recorded

Arrangements are reviewed as government regulations and advice from the Archdiocese are updated.  If the church is closed, instruction can transfer online.

 

Theophany/Holy Water

 

(1) Sprinkling of Holy Water on individuals to be done from a safe (2 metre) distance by the priest moving around the church (rather than people queuing to be sprinkled).

(2) No drinking from shared vessels.   If people wish to drink from the new Holy Water they must bring their own cup or glass.

(3) Collection of Holy Water:  People who have sanitised their hands may collect Holy Water using the tap on the tank. 

(4) The church will supply small plastic bottles for those who have forgotten to bring their own.