Everyone attending services of any type (including weddings, funerals and baptisms) should wear a face covering unless they are exempted from doing so. For those leading and taking part in the service they are able to remove their face covering at the points where they are leading, preaching or reading. However at these points they should ensure they are at least 2m away from others and the face covering should be worn at all other points of the service. Where this is not possible we would recommend a face covering is worn throughout.
When presiding face coverings can also be removed although care should be taken to avoid speaking over any of the elements (see previous guidance for keeping them covered).
All of this guidance is in addition to the exceptions provided that it is permissible to remove face coverings for those who would otherwise struggle with communication (for example where others rely on lip reading etc..).
We also wanted to provide some answers to some other questions which might be asked.
- Q. Can anyone be barred from entering a church service if they elect not to wear a face covering?
- We do not believe that Incumbents, Churchwardens or members of the PCC should feel responsible for enforcing the requirement. They should however ensure that all who attend services are aware. This should include reminding people when advertising services as well as announcements from those leading. The diocese have produced some new posters [insert link] which are an additional way in which the requirement can be communicated. We should continue to remind everyone that wearing a face covering for those who are able is an act of love and kindness for others.
- Q. Can the congregation remove their face covering for Holy Communion?
- You can remove your face covering to take the bread, but the guidance suggests that hands should be sanitised prior to removing the covering and also after replacing it.
- Q. Should face coverings be worn at weddings?
- All those attending the wedding as guests should wear face coverings unless an exemption applies. The bride and groom do not need to wear face coverings. Those leading can also remove their face coverings during the service when speaking and preaching but we would encourage them to try and remain 2m away from the Bride and Groom where possible.