The Church of England’s guidance has changed in the last week to allow one designated person from the parish to enter church buildings, and also to allow professionals to carry out building and maintenance works. When entering your church after it has been completely closed, there are some important things to consider.
Formal guidance has been issued by the Church of England on their website and I’ll now continue to summarise some of the key points.
Only one designated person should enter the building, along with anyone in their household. If you are attending alone, please put in place a lone-worker policy so that someone else knows where you are and that you have safely returned from the church. This could be a family member or church colleague. Ideally, when you are inside the church, the doors should be locked to discourage others from entering, but please always consider your own ability to evacuate the building: we’ve all seen the video of the vicar setting himself alight whilst preaching on Zoom! If you don’t have evacuation doors (and many historic churches don’t) then keep your keys on your person and ensure that evacuation routes are always clear.
When you re-enter the building, it will have been effectively mothballed for two months. You may have disconnected your services so these will need turning back on. There is a risk of legionella from stagnant water systems so run all taps hot and flush toilets to bring new water into the system and kill any spores with the heat.If your church is home to bats or birds, there may be evidence of their droppings: these should be cleaned hygienically and, if there is a significant amount, professionally. High-use surfaces (door-knobs, handrails) should be cleaned on every visit but historic and delicate surfaces, textiles etc., should be dealt with by specialist techniques or products.If you have any concerns or questions over cleaning please do get in touch.
Building and maintenance works and inspections
This is now an opportunity to catch-up on missed or delayed works and inspections: perhaps your QI is now overdue or you had to stop works on a project when lockdown commenced. Before we reach the stage of gatherings taking place again in churches, every effort should be made to come back up to full compliance with matters such as fire extinguishers, boilers, PAT testing, lightning conductors etc. Any electrical equipment brought into the church to enable streaming of services should be PAT tested before use in the church and please do not overload extension cables.
When welcoming your architect, inspectors or contractors onto site to work, you should agree safe systems of work in advance with them and obtain a copy of the RAMS (Risk Assessment & Method Statement) for the work proposed. They should have extra hygiene and distancing measures in these reflecting the situation we are all in.Ensure that neighbours are aware that contractors are working at the church so they don’t mistake them for thieves!
If you have any questions or would like guidance on how best to allow streaming or works to take place at your church, please do get in contact with me: firstname.lastname@example.org / 07729 036326 / 01905 732809 (any messages on this number are emailed to me). I’d also be more than happy to recommence discussions with parishes about planned repairs or developments that have been side-lined during this period or to look at any other matter concerning your buildings, churchyard or funding.