As we reopen for Sunday morning worship in St Thomas’ we will be following advice and guidance from The Executive Office, Stormont, issued on 26 June 2020. This advice is at the bottom of this article.
Coming to Worship from Sunday 19th July 2020 onward
Please use the top Eglantine Avenue gate, on foot, to go into church and leave church. Coming in to church and leaving church will assisted by churchwardens who will always remain at a social distance.
For your safety, and the safety of others in the congregation, you are requested to wear a facemask while in the church and grounds.
When outside church, please maintain 3 metres (10 feet) social distancing at all times.
When inside church, please maintain 2 metres (7 feet) social distancing at all times.
Families living in the same household do not need to social distance from each other and can sit together in church.
If everyone could please enter the church grounds by the top gate on Eglantine Avenue and not the main church door. The main church door will not be in use.
For those with families and who are under 70, on entering through the top gate on Eglantine Avenue please turn immediately right and enter church by the single door, which faces Eglantine Avenue. A churchwarden will guide you.
For those who are 70 or over, or if you are a wheelchair user, or a wheelchair user with your family on entering by the top gate on Eglantine Avenue please go straight ahead and enter church by the disabled access door. A churchwarden will guide you.
Inside church, automatic hand sanitiser units are available for your use on entering and leaving.
The downstairs toilet is available if necessary.
Churchwardens will guide you to a seat. It will not be possible to have your usual seat. Seating patterns will ensure 2 metre (7 feet) social distancing and maximize the amount of people we can have in church during worship.
There will be a photograph taken for recording attendance. We would ask all visitors to provide us with their contact details through a churchwarden. All information will be stored securely and used for no other purpose except in assisting the Contact Tracing Agency if required.
This Sunday we will be live streaming, that is, broadcasting the service live over the internet on our Facebook page for the benefit of those that cannot be with us in church. The cameras for live streaming will be focussed on the front of the church towards the organ and Rector’s prayer desk area.
We will be following worship using the main projector screen. If you have a smartphone or tablet device and receive the weekly Order of Service used on our internet worship, you can also follow the service in this way in church.
For those who cannot be in church there will be the usual internet service on Starleaf at 12.30 p.m. If you know of anyone who wants to join Starleaf, please ask them to email me.
There will be a retiring offertory at the end of the service.
In the coming weeks Select Vestry will be launching a financial appeal to try and recover the reduction in our income received during the Coronavirus pandemic. Your generosity is always greatly appreciated and further details are to follow.
At the end of worship please do not leave your seats or church until guided by a churchwarden.
Finally, I would like to thank you all and thank everyone in the parish for all your prayers, support, help and encouragement in these extra ordinary times and as we return to public worship in St Thomas’.
With warmest wishes and blessings,
NI Executive Advice
The Executive Office, the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride and the Chief Scientific Advisor, Professor Ian Young provide this advice. Their recommendations are not legal requirements but intended to assist places of worship to prepare to open in a manner that is safe and in line with social distancing guidelines, so that all individuals attending a place of worship, including those who work there, have minimal risk of exposure to coronavirus.
Although the rate of coronavirus transmission in the local community is currently low, the risk profile for indoor activities is higher than outdoor. The following steps can be taken to minimise the risks and in St Thomas’ we will encourage you to follow them closely for your safety and the safety of others:
What if you or any member of your family have symptoms of Coronavirus
Please do not attend worship if you or any member of your family are showing symptoms of Coronavirus.
Please do not attend worship if you or any member of your family has been advised to self-isolate via the contact tracing service.In this case, you must not attend church for the full recommended period of self-isolation (regardless of whether or not you have symptoms).
The main symptoms of Coronavirus are:
- a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal
Most people with coronavirus have at least 1 of these symptoms.
What to do if you have symptoms
If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus:
- Stay at home (self-isolate) immediately – do not leave your home or have visitors. Anyone you live with, and anyone in your support bubble, must also self-isolate.
- Get a test – get a test to check if you have coronavirus as soon as possible. Anyone you live with, and anyone in your support bubble, should also get a test if they have symptoms.
- If you are diagnosed with coronavirus, please tell your medical team or contact tracing that you attend St Thomas’ Church, Eglantine Avenue.
If you are Shielding or are a Vulnerable Individual
The Executive have advised those individuals recognised as clinically extremely vulnerable to shield indoors. Those over 70 or with other serious underlying health conditions have been advised to minimise social contact as much as possible and to be particularly careful with social distancing.
The Executive recently agreed to extend the ability for shielding individuals to socialise outdoors and form support networks with another household.
From 31 July, subject to the rate of community transmission continuing to be low, those advised to shield should instead follow the same guidance and precautions as those considered to be generally vulnerable, using extreme caution when in using public spaces and during interactions with other people.
After the 31st of July 2020, it may be possible that in St Thomas’ we can provide a “greater isolation area” in the balcony for those who have shielded or who are vulnerable.
The Executive Office advice is that face coverings may help prevent the transmission of Coronavirus to others. They further say the use of face coverings are strongly recommended in indoor settings and recommend that this is adopted in places of worship as a good principle.