Date: August 9 2021
The UK Government has removed most legal covid-related restrictions. Most adults, and almost all older adults, in the UK have now been fully vaccinated. But case rates (in early August) remain high. It’s clear that people who are fully vaccinated can still become infected with covid, although the very great majority of those who do, develop comparatively mild symptoms. It’s also clear that those vaccinated people who do develop covid can transmit it to others.
Our main approach (at least until case rates drop a lot more) is to maintain the more important and less intrusive of our safety measures, such as ventilation and using outside space, and those measures that insulate one group from another when using the Meeting House at the same time (for example, requiring face coverings in shared spaces like toilets.)
Coming into the Meeting House
- Friends should not attend the Meeting House if they are unwell. In particular, they should be aware that currently the most common symptoms of covid are headache and symptoms similar to a bad cold (runny nose, sneezing, and sore throat) as well as cough and fever. Friends exhibiting such symptoms should get a test before attending the meeting house. Friends should also be aware that lateral flow tests sometimes show false negative results so if you have clear symptoms you should consider repeating the test if the first one is negative.
- Face-coverings should continue to be worn in all shared areas – that is, the toilets, kitchen and corridors
- Rooms should continue to be kept well ventilated. Friends using the smaller rooms might also consider opening a window in the corridor to create a cross-draft.
- Please continue to wash or sanitise your hands when you arrive at the Meeting House
Meeting for Worship
- We will continue with blended meetings (Zoom).
- Friends attending the Meeting House for Meeting for Worship can choose whether or not to wear a face-covering. Two rooms will operate:
- The Main Meeting Room to accommodate up to 30 Friends wearing face-coverings
- the Garden Room for up to 10 Friends who may choose not to wear them.
- Attendance at meeting for worship will be logged for contact tracing purposes.
- Quaker Faith and Practice and Bibles can be laid out on a table during worship.
- Socialising after meeting for worship will continue as set out below. This may mean that people who have worshipped without masks in the Garden room but are now serving from the kitchen hatch must now put them on.
- Tea and coffee can be served from the kitchen hatch, with a biscuit
- Where possible, Friends should socialise in small groups outside in the gardens.
- Where outside socialising is not possible, Friends should socialise in small groups spread throughout the Meeting House, using all available rooms.
- Masks should be worn inside until Friends are seated together to drink coffee and/or eat.
Regular Quaker Groups and Events
Regular Quaker groups (for example, Craft Group, Overseers) should decide for themselves whether to meet face-to-face indoors and, if so, whether to distance or wear face-coverings within their own meeting room.
What decision is made will depend on a combination of:
- Are all or almost all participants fully vaccinated?
- Are some participants at increased risk of infection (for example, weakened immune system) or due to age and underlying conditions at increased risk of severe disease?
- Do participants feel comfortable meeting indoors without face-coverings, even if all in the group are fully vaccinated?
- Is meeting outdoors a possibility?
Group organisers should talk to the Wardens in advance if your group wishes to use the kitchen. Only one group may use the kitchen at any one time.
A note should be kept of the names of attendees for contact tracing purposes.
* Friends working with children indoors should be double vaccinated or have recovered from a covid infection or had a negative test in the last 3 days, preferably a PCR test. A helper who is well but unvaccinated and untested may participate in outdoor Children’s Meeting.
- Friends should not attend the Meeting House or participate in Children’s Meeting if they are unwell. Please see “Coming into the Meeting House” above for more information
- Outdoor Children’s Meetings are preferable (from a covid safety point of view) when weather allows.
- Masks are not mandatory either for the adults or children. Friends working with children should consider wearing a face-covering while rates are high. Friends who are especially vulnerable to covid should consider wearing an FFP2 or equivalent grade mask while indoors or participating only in outdoor Meetings. (See How to Upgrade your Mask below for details.)
Specific, one-off Quaker Events
Our Covid Protocol Group will assess risk for specific, large Quaker events. Click here for details of forthcoming events, currently:
- Simplicity Lunch (August 15th)
- First Friday Poetry Evening (September 3rd)
- Camino to COP (12-14 September)
- First Friday Concert (Saturday October 2nd)
General Covid Safety Measures
Please see Our Measures to Keep You Safe, elsewhere in the Covid-19 Protocols for information about our general safety measures (ventilation, cleaning, restricting numbers of people using the Meeting House).
How to Upgrade your Mask: For the extra-vulnerable or extra-cautious
Friends who are particularly vulnerable to covid (or just extra-cautious) might want to upgrade their face-covering to improve its ability to protect the wearer. Information about how to do that, including FFP2 masks (available from Boots), can be found here
We are constantly monitoring our covid safety measures and trying to provide an environment that will be safe and feel safe for all Friends. We hope these new developments will enable the Meeting House to feel just a little bit more normal.