4. Preparing for reopening – social distancing – July 2020

Social distancing

Guidelines on social distancing should be followed for your place of worship, including:

  • Where possible, adhering to social distancing of at least 2 metres or 1 metre with risk mitigation (where 2 metres is not viable) between households.
  • For frequently used places, marking areas using floor tape or paint to help people maintain social distance.
  • Avoiding any face-to-face seating and improving ventilation (e.g. by fixing doors open where appropriate).
  • Closing non-essential social spaces.
  • Introducing socially distanced queuing systems so the flow of groups in and out of the premises can be carefully controlled, reducing the risk of congestion or contact.

Other things you can do to help with social distancing could include:

  • Introducing a one-way flow in and out of the premises with appropriate floor markings or signage, with restrictions on accessing non-essential areas. At the end of worship time, this could include worshippers leaving one row at a time (or waiting to be instructed by stewards), in order to prevent crowding at entry or exit points.
  • Multiple entry points could be opened, and clear signposting or assistance could be offered to guide worshippers and to avoid congestion.
  • Staggering arrival and departure times will reduce the flow at exits and entrances.
  • Consider introducing a booking system to control numbers. You may want to consider how prioritisation could be given to people who may have a specific need or requirement.
  • Any changes to entrances, exits and queues should take into account reasonable adjustments to accommodate those who need them, such as worshippers with physical disabilities.
  • Advertising set days or times when your building is open solely for those particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, such as those over 70 or clinically vulnerable.
  • Consider changing your car park layout to help people socially distance. You may consider asking people to stay in cars until directed by stewards.

For more information and guidance about opening up your church building check out our recent briefing paper ‘Coming out of Covid-19 – opening up church buildings for worship’