Date: 1st November 2021
The UK Government has removed most legal covid-related restrictions. Case rates in the community remain very high, with the great majority of cases in young people (at end October 2021). The availability of vaccination and testing means that the risk of transmission varies greatly in different settings. Events open to the general public (including Meeting for Worship) require general covid safety measures. The combination of full vaccination and pre-event testing can now enable the safe conduct of even higher risk activities, such as singing groups where mask-wearing is difficult or impossible.
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.
- 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. We are currently experimenting, using carbon-dioxide monitors, to find out what is required by way of window-opening to ensure the right level of ventilation.
- 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. Anyone who is not fully vaccinated should wear a face mask, unless exempt.
- the Garden Room for up to 15 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, Pastoral Friends) should decide for themselves what measures are required within their own meeting room to keep themselves safe and feeling safe – that is, whether or not face masks are required, the total number of participants in their group (within the room maximums allowed) and/or whether or not to require a negative lateral flow test before attendance.
What decision is made will depend on a combination of:
- Are participants fully vaccinated and/or recently recovered from covid?
- 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?
- Does your activity carry particular risks (for example, singing) and make it difficult or impossible to wear masks? If so, we recommend that participants take a lateral flow test within 24 hours beforehand. More information on tests can be found here
- Do participants feel comfortable meeting indoors without face-coverings, even if all in the group are fully vaccinated?
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 recorded a negative PCR test as recently as possible and certainly within 72 hours or a negative Lateral Flow test within the last 24 hours. 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.)
Social events that involve singing
Singing transmits the singer’s breath over a much larger area than talking and it is very difficult to sing wearing a mask. Attendance at Quaker singing groups should be restricted to those who are fully vaccinated and who have had recorded a negative Lateral Flow test within the last 24 hours. Attendees who are not singing but simply listening may choose to wear a mask rather than take a test.
Lateral Flow tests show a very high rate of effectiveness, c95%, in identifying people who are actually infectious, whether symptomatic or not, as they pick up almost all people with a high viral load. More information about tests can be found here
Specific, one-off Quaker Events
Our Covid Protocol Group will assess risk for specific, large Quaker events.
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.