As the Prime Minister and others have indicated the Coronavirus outbreak is “the worst public health crisis for a generation”. The virus is new and there is no natural immunity to it in the general populace. In the elderly and in those with underlying health conditions it is capable of causing serious complications. This is a rapidly changing situation and in Fenwick Church we are taking it seriously and reviewing advice and practice as best we can. There is delicate balance between protecting our most vulnerable members and avoiding social isolation.
The UK Government has not opted for a complete shutdown of public gatherings at the present time while the Scottish Government has banned public gatherings of greater than 500 people (this more to do with freeing front line services than preventing the spread of infection).
We encourage everybody to follow HNS guidelines on best practice which can be found here https://www.hps.scot.nhs.uk/a-to-z-of-topics/wuhan-novel-coronavirus and government guidelines on self isolating if you have signs of fever or a new dry cough. In this situation or if you are in doubt please do not come to Church. If you are in one of the vulnerable groups with underlying health condition you may wish to follow a more rigorous self-isolation. We encourage everybody to follow the advice on thorough hand washing, get into the habit now of washing your hands before you go out, when you return to your home and whenever the opportunity presents itself while you are out and about. In between times use hand sanitiser gel if you are able to purchase it.
As to church activities the following will apply:
Following advice from the Church of Scotland we will continue to meet for worship with the following conditions.
The welcome team will still give you a warm greeting but there will be no hand shakes, hugs or kisses.
We will be removing the communal Bibles from the pews as the reading are on the screens. Please bring your own Bibles if you wish to follow the reading in print. We will greet each other at the beginning of worship not with a handshake but with an Indian style “namaste” – clerks will demonstrate!
We will continue to serve tea and coffee but we encourage you to use all of the space in the hall.
Open plates of biscuits and cakes will not be available, individually wrapped biscuits and cakes will be available.
Those on tea and coffee duty must follow hand washing guidelines, washing hands on entering the kitchen to prepare items or in order to serve food. Nobody should enter the kitchen without washing their hands.
Those on count duty should wash their hands after counting the offering.
We understand if people wish to avoid public gatherings and stay away from Church. Please do inform us if that is your intention and we will endeavour to keep in touch with you.
At this stage Church activities remain open but under review of individual activity leaders bearing in mind the vulnerable groups present (clients and volunteers) and the ability to stage the activity safely.
The following will apply
High touch surfaces – door handles, doorplates, light switches, taps, toilet handles, light switches to be wiped down with surface disinfectant before and after the activity. Additional wipe downs of high touch surfaces should be done where there is high throughput of people.
Open plates of biscuits, cakes and other food will not be available on counters or tables for selection (All groups using the hall need to review how they manage this with immediate effect)
Communal equipment ie games etc to be wiped down with surface disinfectant after use.
Tables where used to be wiped down with surface disinfectant after use.
Chairs to be wiped down with surface disinfectant after use.
We will take the opportunity to encourage and demonstrate good hand washing practice at every opportunity and advise our user base on self isolation.
Hand sanitiser will be provided if and when we are able to get a supply.
Coronavirus is in the population and it will spread. As we follow the government advice on self isolation it may be the only way we can offer pastoral support to our members is by telephone.
This is a rapidly changing situation and anything in the above may change at short notice. Up to date advice will be also be posted on our Web and Facebook pages.
Finally please continue to pray through all of this. Many people are fearful and anxious at this time and think to of many people around the world facing graver dangers because they are caught in refugee camps or where health service provision is either poor or costly. In all of this our Lord is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow keep your sights set on him and let him enfold you and yours in his love.
Sources of current advice