Important information about church halls and children's activities
To: All PCC Secretaries, Churchwardens, Health & Safety Representatives and Clerics
Firstly, a huge Thank You, for everything you’re doing and continue to do during this very difficult time. I know we’ve all found it challenging in different ways.
In recent weeks we have received queries and there has been speculation in chat forums, about the re-opening of our church halls, so I thought it useful to provide some clarity regarding this topic.
Please be aware that we are still not permitted to open our church halls for anything except Essential Voluntary Services or Public Services, for which, you should have local authority approval.
This means that youth and children's activities are not currently permitted in church halls. Churches are permitted to be open for services and private prayer, so groups that would normally meet in a church building are also not permitted to open at this time. Children and youth groups cannot currently meet face to face. There is no time line available for any gatherings of this type. We are adhering to Welsh Government guidelines.
We are anticipating a gradual phased return to group activities, and will provide information when changes are made to the restrictions. We know many of you may be hoping for a relaxation once the schools are operational, but to be honest, we really don’t know if this will be the case. For further information please do monitor the Church in Wales website and Welsh Government guidance links below and the Welsh Government briefings.
The Church In Wales Guidance is continuously updated in-line with Welsh Government Guidance, please monitor these pages for up-to-date information: https://www.churchinwales.org.uk/en/clergy-and-members/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance/re-opening-church-halls/
Our church halls fall under the definition of community centres within the Welsh Government regulations, which can be found here: https://gov.wales/safe-use-multi-purpose-community-centres-covid-19 . This means that the guidance applies to all locations equally, e.g. the church, church hall, community hall etc.
If you are operating an Essential or Public Service, then it is the PCC’s responsibility to conduct a risk assessment prior to opening. This is applicable to all activities, whether you are the organiser or the location provider. Guidance for this can be also be found on the Church in Wales link above. It is possible that your Archdeacon may also be required to authorise any re-openings as they do for our churches, but this will be advised when the updates are available.
I know that this is a frustration for some of you, but during this pandemic we have proved our resilience as a church in responding to change and many of our offerings (and new ones!) are now available in a digital format. Through this medium we have also demonstrated our support and care to our communities and it is still incumbent on us all to keep our communities as safe as possible. As Mark Drakeford reminds us “the virus hasn’t gone away”. If you would like further information or help in making activities (and/or their income generation) digital, please contact your Deanery Children, Youth & Family Officer. Please also feel free to contact either them or myself if you would like to discuss any of the above further. For those of you who have not yet been in contact with your Deanery Officer, they are: Afon Tawe, Rachel Bunting, firstname.lastname@example.org; Greater Gower, Sian Parkhouse, email@example.com; Greater Brecon, Clare Morgan, firstname.lastname@example.org; Radnor & Builth, Sian Smith, email@example.com.
Best wishes, & stay safe,