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by Duncan Dwinell

Duncan Dwinell


Darkness at the End of the Tunnel as Brexit Approaches
In the coming weeks and months, anger, condemnation, accusations and claims of betrayal will become increasingly common in the discourse of politics in the ‘Untied Kingdom’. This will not be the language of mediation, empathy and mutual respect. The virtues that spring from love, listening and discernment will be challenged. Only by upholding a commitment to and exemplifying our testimonies can we contribute to a better future.
The current impasse has roots deeply laid in history, tangled by misunderstanding and ignorance. More recently, facts and patient discussion have succumbed to misrepresentation, exaggeration and fear mongering. The ‘democratic process’ has moved away from compromise to binary entrenchment. The political process of ‘winner takes all’ in these conditions can be nothing but divisive.
In 2016 the Government of the day offered a too simple choice: Remain or Leave. The latter proved more popular. ‘Leave’ has proven to be undeliverable in any acceptable form. The children of ‘Leave’ cry, ‘But you promised!’ and feel cheated. A more careful understanding of the vote would be that Britain voted for ‘half a Brexit’; this is how it would have been described as an opinion poll or ‘straw vote’.
Given the embedded guarantee in the Good Friday Agreement of an open Irish border, the fundamental ingredient of ‘Leave’, to have sovereign control of our trade and immigration, was contradicted from the start. ‘Leave’ has never been a viable, practicable and/or legal option. Another way is necessary.
The Parliamentary processes we have witnessed have failed to convince us that authority is sufficient to lead us through. Various dramatis personae are ‘blamed’ for disobeying, stretching and even enforcing rules and established practices. Outside Parliament businesses and vulnerable people are suffering from indecision and insecurity.
I have sketched a nasty, brutish and unfortunately long-lasting situation. What we are witnessing is the least bloody political revolution in history, taking place in the ‘Mother of Parliaments’ (not forgetting Jo Cox, MP). There is as little glory or virtue here as there would be on any field of combat. However, the Fifth Estate may be divided but all sides remain free to express their views. Honourable people abound and are allowed to carry on their good work.
Our future is not determined. It is shaped by yesterday and today; by actions and responses; by thought, expression and discourse; by listening, caring and learning. The practice of discernment and witness could never be more necessary. The ‘dark’ at the end of the tunnel is but the ‘blind corner’ of tomorrow. We know where the Light is.

Duncan Dwinell, member of Sevenoaks Quaker Meeting
15 Lendon Road, Borough Green TN15 8SE Kent


Duncan Dwinell


WKAM: Re-Opening our Meeting Houses and Gardens


Contents
Introduction 2
Guide for hirers and other visitors to the meeting house 3
Guide to worshipers using the meeting house 4
Guide for worshipers at meeting for worship outdoors 5
Guide for people managing, servicing, and cleaning meeting houses 6



Introduction
Quakers, in common with other faith groups are considering how to open our Meeting Houses or continue to provide community services safely from them. The UK government provided updated guidance on 29th June, to take effect from July 4th 2020 which has relaxed the rules for elements of society to allow more social mixing under certain conditions. We also have guidance from our insurers, Britain Yearly Meeting, Rochester LM and from other faith groups such as the Muslim Council of Britain and Maidstone Muslim community.
This document is a first attempt by West Kent Trustees to bring together the various pieces of advice and guidance to help us consider whether and how we can open or continue to keep open out meetings houses safely. We earnestly wish to help Friends when dealing with the great responsibility of running buildings whilst keeping safe all those who use them.
This document has four handy guides with a summary of behaviours that comply with government guidance and we hope that they will help us to know what to do as worshipers, hirers and people involved in the running and maintenance of the building.
The appendices summarise the guidance:
• Appendix A: Before opening
• Appendix B: Opening for community service
• Appendix C: Opening for meeting for worship
• Appendix D: When holding meeting for worship outdoors
There are some things that must be done because they are required by law of to avoid invalidating insurance. For example, a COVID-19 risk assessment should be completed by each place of worship (where appropriate in conjunction with unions/ workers/ volunteers/ other contractors). Failure to do so could be a breach of Health & Safety Legislation. There are some outcomes that must be achieved, such as preventing cross-infection by droplet or aerosol but there may be different ways to achieve this, for example by observing social distancing of 2 metres or alternatively of 1 metre plus mitigation factors.
The guidance is the synthesis of the following documents
• COVID-19: Guidance for the safe use of multi-purpose community facilities (UK Gov. published June 30th 2020)
• COVID-19: Guidance for the safe use of places of worship from 4 July (UK Gov. published 29 June 2020)
• Coronavirus outbreak FAQs: what you can and can’t do after 4 July (UK Gov. updated 24th June 2020)
• COVID-19: Working Safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) (from June 23rd ready for July 4th)
• 9 steps to re-opening Quaker meeting houses and worship spaces safely (BYM 17th June 2020 v.2.0)
• COVID-19 Secure – Opening places for worship after lockdown (Methodist Insurance, 12th June 2020)
• Thoughts of meetings for worship during the pandemic (Woodbrooke, 3rd June 2020)
• Guidance from the Maidstone Muslim community
• Quake!: Gov.uk advice for re-opening multi-purpose community facilities



Guide for hirers and other visitors to the meeting house

Guidelines to follow when meeting houses re-open for hiring or groups not paying for hiring
Who can come to community groups/ meetings? Those
? Aged 69 or below
? Without Covid-19 symptoms (temp higher than 37.5c, a dry cough, loss of smell or taste, cold or flu like symptoms)
?Not shielding at home
?With no underlying health conditions
?Not living with someone who is shielding or who is over 60
?Children aged above 10
?Not working on the frontline i.e. in hospitals

Preparation before attending meeting
? Bring any books/ reading material you may wish to read
? Wear a mask and carry your own hand sanitiser

Attending the meeting house
Observe the 2-metre social distancing rule when entering the meeting house
Clean your hands with hand sanitiser or wash your hands with soap and water and dry them properly
Observe the 2-metre distancing rule in the meeting room by maintaining the chairs in the position they have been set out.
Observe the 2-metre distancing rule when exiting the meeting room and meeting house
Avoid touching the property of others
Do not shake hands with or hug others
Pay attention to the signage indicating one-way traffic flow if it is in place
Do not car-share or pick up others not belonging to the same household in your car.
If you use public transport, make sure you wear a mask and wash/ sanitise hands when coming into the meeting house
You may be required to give your contact details to support track and trace
Guide to worshipers using the meeting house
Guidelines to follow when meeting houses re-open for worship
Who can come to community groups/ meetings? Those
Aged 69 or below
Without Covid-19 symptoms (temp higher than 37.5c, a dry cough, loss of smell or taste, cold or flu like symptoms)
Not shielding at home
With no underlying health conditions
Not living with someone who is shielding or who is over 60
Children aged above 10
Not working on the frontline i.e. in hospitals

Preparation before attending meeting for worship
Bring any books/ reading material you may wish to read
Wear a mask and carry your own hand sanitiser

Attending the meeting house
Observe the 2-metre social distancing rule when entering the meeting house
Clean your hands with hand sanitiser or wash your hands with soap and water and dry them properly
Observe the 2-metre distancing rule in the meeting room by maintaining the chairs in the position they have been set out.
Observe the 2-metre distancing rule when exiting the meeting room and meeting house
Avoid touching the property of others
Do not shake hands with or hug others
Pay attention to the signage indicating one-way traffic flow if it is in place
Do not car-share or pick up others not belonging to the same household in your car.
If you use public transport, make sure you wear a mask and wash/ sanitise hands when coming into the meeting house
You may be required to give your contact details to support track and trace

Guide for worshipers at meeting for worship outdoors

A COVID-19 risk assessment should be completed by each place of worship (where appropriate in conjunction with unions/ workers/ volunteers/ other contractors). Failure to do so could be a breach of Health & Safety Legislation.
The holding of outdoor meetings is the decision of local business meetings and can be held if govt guidance is followed and Elders have considered it.
Meeting should comply with social distancing rules i.e. social interactions should be limited to 2 households (including support bubbles) in any location; or if outdoor, potentially up to 6 people from different households.

? It should be decided how to prioritise the needs of some people over others and how this will be communicated
It should be decided whether the meeting will be private or public
The amount of outdoor space needed should be calculated.

Guide for people managing, servicing, and cleaning meeting houses

A COVID-19 risk assessment should be completed by each place of worship (where appropriate in conjunction with unions/ workers/ volunteers/ other contractors). Failure to do so could be a breach of Health & Safety Legislation.
Provide hand sanitiser available at door and at suitable locations in the meeting house including bathrooms
Remove all books, leaflets, collecting boxes and other material or lock them away
Lock all unnecessary doors
Provide one toilet only open (unisex) to avoid ’pinch points’ and the requirement for additional cleaning
Provide posters/ signs reminding people about hand washing and social distancing
Calculate the maximum number of people which can be accommodated at 2-metre intervals
Set out chairs arranged at 2-metre intervals for the maximum number of people allowed
? Mark out and provide signs for any one-way system that is put in place
? Make sure that the kitchen is locked and cannot be used.
? Shared facilities for children such as play corners, soft furnishings, soft toys and toys that are hard to clean will be removed and/ or put out of use
Antibacterial/ antiviral spray will be available in the toilet for wiping down after use
Hand sanitiser, soap and water and hand drying facilities will be available in the toilet
Facilities will be kept well ventilated, for example by fixing doors open where appropriate and safe to do so.

Cleaning will be undertaken at a minimum of once every day including toilets and all surfaces which may be touched
All surfaces, especially those most frequently touched such as door handles and rails, will be regularly cleaned using standard cleaning products. Enough time will be given for this cleaning to take place, particularly before reopening for the first time. Frequently used objects, surfaces or spaces, including for example doorways between outside and inside spaces will be given particular attention when cleaning.

The cleaning regime will be displayed in the meeting house and cleaning staff will sign to show the time that cleaning took place.
The rules will be displayed and anyone using building to be told in advance.


Appendix A: Before Opening
1. A risk assessment must be carried out. This is required by law.
2. If the building has not been used for some time check that the premises are in good order: check the following:
• utilities
• heating
• water
• emergency equipment e.g. firefighting/ fire detection
3. Ensure statutory checks have been carried out
4. Check footpaths
5. Check if accumulation of rubbish is a hazard
6. Carry out additional cleaning
• make sure to keep safe those involved (more information below)
7. Make sure starting up any equipment e.g. heating is done safely
8. Implement precautions to
• protect those who are clinically vulnerable (or shielding someone who is) or extremely vulnerable, making sure that anyone who is self-isolating does not physically come to the premises
• maintain social distancing
• make sure any premises remain clean
• provide access to adequate sanitation
• safely dispose of any waste
• minimise the number of unnecessary visits to premises
• provide information to others about the precautions you have taken or those necessary if people are thinking about coming to your church premises
• Consideration should be given to how fair and equal access can be safely given including compliance with government guidelines and compliance with the Equality Act (2010)





Appendix B: Opening for community service
Introduction
No-one should work in an unsafe workplace. Each community facility should apply relevant guidance appropriately. Where community facilities are also workplaces those responsible should be aware of their responsibilities as employers. Anyone with control of non-domestic premises (e.g. community centre or hall) must take reasonable measures to ensure access, equipment or substances provided for it are safe for the people using it.
General principles
• 'Venue managers' have discretion over whether they consider it safe to open and should decide to remain closed if they cannot comply with govt guidelines
• 'Venue Managers' should consider engaging those working/ volunteering within the building and surrounding grounds to minimise potential for spreading COVID-19. You may want to agree an informal community behaviour agreement
• Users and hirers of a community facility have responsibility for managing risks arising from their own activities when they have control of the premises and should take account of any guidance to their specific activity or sector.
• Social distancing rule must be observed, and the size and circumstance of the premises will determine the number of people that can be accommodated.
• Users of community facilities (from 4th July) should have already limited their social interactions to 2 households (including support bubbles) in any location; or if outdoor, potentially up to 6 people from different households.
• It will be against the law for gatherings of more than 30 people to take place.
• COVID-19 secure premises (such as care homes) can hold more than 30 people, subject to their own capacity limits, although individual groups should not interact with anyone outside the group they are attending the venue with - so in a group no larger than 2 households or 6 people indoors.
• Kitchens should remain closed for hirers to reduce the requirement for cleaning and the possibility of cross-infection
Specific actions
• A COVID-19 risk assessment should be completed (where appropriate in conjunction with unions/ workers/ volunteers/ other contractors). Failure to do so could be a breach of Health & Safety Legislation.
• Individuals should avoid touching the property of others
• introduce a one-way flow in and out of the premises, with appropriate floor markings or signage. Any changes to entrance, exists and queues should take into account the need to make reasonable adjustments for those who need them, e.g. people with disabilities
• Manage arrival and departure times of different groups to reduce pressure at exits and entrances
• Queue management - control flow of groups in and out of the premises to reduce risk of congestion. Socially distant queuing may be necessary




Cleaning
• All surfaces especially those most frequently touched should be cleaned regularly, using standard cleaning products. If you are cleaning after a known or suspected case of COVID-19 refer to specific govt guidance
• Allow sufficient time for this cleaning to take place (particularly before re-opening). Frequently used objects, surfaces or spaces e.g. doorways between outside & indoor spaces should be given particular attention
• Where possible non-fire doors and windows should be open to improve ventilation
• Have signs and posters to build awareness of good handwashing technique, the need to increase frequency of handwashing, advice to avoid touching your face, cough or sneeze into a tissue which is binned safely or into your arm if a tissue is not available.
• Have signs and posters to build awareness of good handwashing technique, the need to increase frequency of handwashing, advice to avoid touching your face, cough or sneeze into a tissue which is binned safely or into your arm if a tissue is not available.
• Provide hand sanitiser in several locations e.g. reception areas and washrooms
• Have clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets so they are kept clean and social distancing is achieved as much as possible
• Provide hand drying facilities (e.g. paper towels or electric dryers)
Hygiene and face coverings
• On entering and leaving a community facility everyone, including staff, should be asked to wash their hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds using soap and water or to use hand sanitiser if hand washing facilities are not available.
• If you can, wear a face covering in enclosed public spaces where social distancing is not possible and where you will encounter people you do not normally meet e.g. a community facility. This is most relevant for short periods indoors in crowded areas. Face coverings do not replace social distancing
• Even if a face covering is used, all users of the space (including staff) should continue to wash hands regularly and maintain social distancing. Use face covering properly and thoroughly wash hands before and after use. Face coverings should not be used by children under 3 years old or those who may find it difficult to manage then correctly
Vulnerable people
• All those over 70 and groups who are at increased risk of disease form COVID-19 should stay at home as much as possible. If they do go out, they should minimise contact with others outside their household
Toilets
• Public toilets, portable toilets and toilets inside premises should be kept open and carefully managed to reduce risk of transmission
• Have signs and posters to build awareness of good handwashing technique, the need to increase frequency of handwashing, advice to avoid touching your face, cough or sneeze into a tissue which is binned safely or into your arm if a tissue is not available.
• Consider use of social distancing marking in areas where queues normally form and the adoption of a limited entry approach e.g. one in, one out, without creating additional bottlenecks
• Consider making hand sanitiser available on entry to toilets where safe & practical. Ensure suitable handwashing facilities including running water and liquid soap and suitable options for drying (ether paper towels or hand dryers) are available
• Setting clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets, with increased cleaning in line with use. Use normal cleaning products, pay attention to frequently hand-touched surfaces, consider use of disposable cloths or paper roll to clean all hard surfaces
• Keep facilities well ventilated e.g. fixing doors open where appropriate
• Take special care for cleaning of toilet blocks and portable toilets
• Put up a visible cleaning schedule, keep it up to date & visible
• Provide more waste facilities and more frequent rubbish collection

Noise
• Refrain from playing music or broadcasts that may encourage shouting, including playing at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult as this can increase the risk of spread particularly aerosol & droplet transmission
• Avoid other close activities such as communal dancing

Track & Trace
• Keep a temporary record of customers & visitors for 21 days in way that is manageable for your 'business' and assist NHS Test & Trace with requests for data if needed
Travel and Parking
• Not relevant to use of meeting house as a community venue

Permitted Activities - subject to applying the rules
• Early years & youth provision and childcare
• Voluntary sector and other service provision
• Recreation, leisure & social gatherings - COVID-19 secure premises that can hold more than 30 people subject to capacity limits, can do so but individual groups should not interact with anyone outside the group they are with - so in a group no larger than 2 households or 6 people if outdoors. That is: meet indoors in groups of up to 2 households or outdoors in a group of no more than 2 households (including your support bubble) or in a group of up to 6 people from different households
• Meetings & civic functions - the principles set out in 'Safer workplaces' guidance apply
• Retail & shops facilities
• Places of worship
• Office spaces (see guidance for office spaces)
• Where community centres feature outdoor space see guidance for the safe use of outdoor public spaces

Enforcement
Failure to complete a risk assessment which takes account of COVID-19, or completing a risk assessment but failing to put in place sufficient measures to manage the risk of COVID-19 could be a breach of H&S law
Employers and building operators must respond to any advice or notices issued by enforcing authorities rapidly and within any specified timescales.


Appendix C: Opening for meeting for worship
General
From 4th July public gatherings of over 30 people are only permitted in certain public spaces (set out in law) and this includes places of worship. Limits for communal worship should be decided based on the capacity of the place of worship following a risk assessment. Consider further lowering capacity - even if it is possible to safely seat a number of people inside a venue, it may not be safe for everyone to travel to and from, or enter and exit the venue. A risk assessment must be carried out in conjunction with unions or workers including volunteers and also with worshipers or other stakeholders. Failure to carry out a risk assessment for COVID-19 could constitute a breach of H&S legislation. Be aware of any responsibilities to employees under H&S law

Specific Actions
• Places of worship & faith communities should adapt religious services, especially where ceremonies take place over several hours or days
• Staggering entry times with other local venues and taking steps to avoid queues building up in surrounding areas
• Arranging one-way travel routes between transport hubs and venues
• Advising visitors to avoid particular forms of transport or routes and to avoid crowded areas when in transit to the venue

Adapting practices to reduce the spread of infection
• Once completed participants should be encouraged to move on promptly, to minimise risk of contact and infection
• Worshipers could be encouraged to sit rather than stand to reduce the risk of contact
• Where possible places of worship should stream worship or other events to avoid large gatherings and to continue to reach those individuals who are self-isolating or particularly vulnerable to COVID-19
• Once completed participants should be encouraged to move on promptly, to minimise risk of contact and infection
The use of shared items
• Individuals should be prevented from touching or kissing objects that are handled communally. Barriers or signage should be put in place where necessary to avoid this taking palace
• Individuals should avoid touching the property of others
• Reusable & communal resources e.g. religious texts or devotional material should be removed from us. Single use alternatives should be provided if they are removed and disposed of by the worshiper
• Items owned by the individual to aid worship such as a prayer mat or religious text can be brought in but should be removed by the worshiper
• where worshipers cannot bring their own books, places of worship should keep a selection of clean books to use. Clean books should be quarantined for 48 hours before use and again for 48 hours after use. Items that cannot be easily cleaned should also be subject to the 48-hour quarantine regime
Food and Drink
Food and drink are not essential to the act of worship, so the guidance has been omitted.
Singing & chanting & the use of musical instruments
Singing, chanting and the use of musical instruments are not normally part of the act of worship and so the guidance has been omitted.
Weddings & other lifecycle events
• No food or drink should be consumed as part of the event unless required for the purposes of solemnisation
• No lifecycle event should have more than 30 people present (Table 1 of guidance) unless the event it part of a routine communal worship service. Worshippers should observe social distancing rules
• Large wedding receptions or parties should not take place after life cycle events
Use of water
Water is not essential to the act of worship, so the guidance has been omitted
Cash donations
• Faith leaders should discourage cash donations where possible and use contactless resources
• Where cash must be used it should be collected in a receptacle that is set in one place and handled by one individual (as opposed to be being passed round). Regular cleaning & hygiene should be maintained, and gloves worn to handle cash offerings where giving continues
Young people & children attending places of worship
• Young people should be supervised by the parent or guardian.
• Hands should be washed thoroughly for 20 seconds with running water and soap and dried thoroughly, or use hand sanitiser ensuring that all parts of the hands are covered
• Places of worship can remind children, young people and parents/ guardians of the important actions they should take. Posters on hand washing are available on the eBug website
• Any shared facilities for children such as play corners, soft furnishings, soft toys and toys that are hard to clean should be removed and/ or put out of use
• Any shared facilities for children such as play corners, soft furnishings, soft toys and toys that are hard to clean should be removed and/ or put out of use
• Outdoor playgrounds are permitted to open where venue managers risk asses that it is safe to do so. (See Guidance for managing playgrounds and outdoor gyms). Particular attention should be paid to cleaning frequently touched surfaces by children and those that are at 'child height'
• Principles in general guidance from the Dept of Education should also be followed for any separate children's activities being organised by the place of worship alongside or within a service
• For formal childcare and education settings refer to relevant guidance

General actions to reduce the spread of infection
People should act in a safe and responsible way to reduce the spread of infection in our communities

Test and trace
• Keep a temporary record of customers & visitors for 21 days in way that is manageable for your place of worship and assist NHS Test & Trace with requests for data if needed
Restrictions on capacity
• The size and circumstance (including ventilation) of the premises will determine the maximum number of people that can be accommodated whilst also facilitating social distancing; this may therefore be lower than the maximum 30 people who can attend life-cycle events such as weddings.
• The safe number of people should be decided by the venue manager.
• In defining the number of people that can reasonably follow social distancing, the total floorspace as well as likely pinch points and busy areas should be taken into account (such as entrances, exits) and where possible alternative or one-way routes introduced.

Social distancing
All managers and all visitors to a place of worship should follow the guidelines on social distancing including:

• Where possible, adhere 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, mark areas using floor tape or paint to help people maintain social distance.
• You should consider and set out the additional mitigations you will introduce in your risk assessment. These could include, for instance, avoiding any face-to-face seating by changing layouts, reducing the number of people in enclosed spaces, improving ventilation, using protective screens and face coverings, and closing non-essential social spaces, as outlined throughout this guidance.
• Queue management is important so the flow of groups in and out of the premises can be carefully controlled in a socially distanced way, reducing the risk of congestion or contact. Considerations should be made for how to manage those waiting outside a place of worship, including the introduction of socially distanced queuing systems.
• All religious practices should be carried out such that adherence to social distancing can be maintained between individuals from different households. This is to reduce the transmission of the virus. There should only be a closer distance when absolutely essential to enable a faith practice to be carried out (for example contact with the faith leader). Time spent in contact should be kept to an absolute minimum.

Other mitigations to support social distancing could include:
• Those leading the worship reminding congregants of the importance of social distancing and hygiene.
• 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, this could include worshippers leaving one row at a time, 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 as well as reduce any impacts on public transport. Venues could also consider introducing a booking system to help facilitate this. You may want to consider how prioritisation could be given to people who may have a specific need or requirement.
• Swing screens, barriers or alternative rooms and spaces to separate worshippers.
• Any changes to entrances, exits and queues should consider reasonable adjustments to accommodate those who need them, such as worshippers with physical disabilities.
• Introducing a booking system to help with managing numbers, particularly for services where demand will be high.
• Introducing a booking system to help with managing numbers, particularly for services where demand will be high.
• Venue managers advertising set days or times when places of worship are open solely for those particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, such as those over 70 or clinically vulnerable.
• Leading worship in different spaces of the place of worship to limit the number of people in any one location - while avoiding risk of crowding at entry/exit points.
• Where social distancing cannot be maintained, extra attention needs to be paid to cleaning and hygiene to reduce the risk of transmission. Consider how well ventilated the venue is and improve this where possible, for example by fixing doors open where appropriate.


Following the guidance on hand hygiene:

• Wash your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds using soap and water or hand sanitiser, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose, or after being in public areas

• When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, or the crook of your sleeved arm (not your hands) if you don’t have a tissue, and throw the tissue away hygienically immediately afterwards. Then wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds using soap and water or hand sanitiser if hand washing facilities are not available.

• The above advice on social distancing also applies when travelling to and from a place of worship. Decisions to reopen car parks are to be made locally and practical measures such as changing the car park layout to help people socially distance should be considered.

People who are symptomatic
Anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 (a new continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss of, or change in, their normal sense of taste or smell) should not attend the place of worship due to the risk that they pose to others; they should self-isolate at home immediately with other members of their household. Remote participation should be considered, for example by live streaming. This applies equally to individuals who work at the place of worship.
Individuals who are self-isolating due to a possible or confirmed case of COVID-19 in the household
• Where individuals are self-isolating due to a possible or confirmed case of COVID-19 in the household, or because they have been requested to so by NHS Test and Trace, they should participate remotely. See stay at home guidance for households with possible or confirmed COVID-19. Guidance is different for funerals, see guidance on managing a funeral during the coronavirus pandemic.
Hygiene
• On entering and leaving a place of worship, everyone, including staff, should be asked to wash their hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds using soap and water or to use hand sanitiser if hand washing facilities are not available. Download a Public Health England poster.
• There should be signs and posters to build awareness of good handwashing technique, the need to increase handwashing frequency, avoid touching your face and to cough or sneeze into a tissue which is binned safely, or into the crook of your sleeved arm if a tissue is not available.
• You should provide hand sanitiser in multiple locations in addition to toilet facilities.

Toilets
• Toilets inside or linked to places of worship should be kept open and carefully managed to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19. Steps that will usually be needed to make the use of toilets as safe as possible:
• Using signs and posters (see Hygiene above).
• Using social distancing marking in areas where queues normally form, and the adoption of a limited entry approach, with one in, one out (whilst avoiding the creation of additional bottlenecks).
• To enable good hand hygiene, make hand sanitiser available on entry to toilets where safe and practical, and ensure suitable handwashing facilities including running water and liquid soap and suitable options for drying (either paper towels or hand dryers) are available. Communal towels should be removed and replaced with single use paper towels.
• Set clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets, with increased frequency of cleaning in line with usage. Use normal cleaning products, paying attention to frequently hand touched surfaces, and consider the use of disposable cloths or paper roll to clean all hard surfaces.
• Keep the facilities well ventilated, for example by fixing doors open where appropriate and safe to do so.
• Special care should be taken for cleaning of portable toilets and larger toilet blocks.
• Putting up a visible cleaning schedule that is kept up to date and visible.
• Providing more waste facilities and more frequent refuse collection.

Cleaning
• All surfaces, especially those most frequently touched such as door handles and rails, should be regularly cleaned using standard cleaning products. See guidance. Enough time needs to be allowed for this cleaning to take place, particularly before reopening for the first time. Frequently used objects, surfaces or spaces, including for example doorways between outside and inside spaces should be given particular attention when cleaning
• Historic England has also produced guidance on cleaning historic surfaces, which might not be suitable for cleaning using standard cleaning products
• A decision should be made locally on how frequently cleaning should take place based on an assessment of risk and use of the building.


Face coverings
• Evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you. However, if you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms, it may provide some protection for others you come into close contact with.
• Face coverings are not a replacement for the other ways of managing risk, including social distancing, minimising time spent in contact, and increasing hand and surface washing. These other measures remain the best ways of managing risk in a place of worship. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you and your household should isolate at home: wearing a face covering does not change this.
• Worshippers, volunteers and staff, may choose to wear face coverings to offer protection to others and if so, it is important to use them properly:
o Thoroughly wash hands before putting them on and taking them off.
o The key thing is they should cover the mouth and nose and fit well around the face. See guidance on making face coverings at home.

• Face coverings should not be used by young children or those who may find it difficult to manage them correctly. For example, primary age children unassisted, or those with respiratory conditions.
• A face covering is not the same as the surgical masks or respirators used by healthcare and other workers as part of personal protective equipment. These masks and respirators should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as health and care workers, and those in industrial settings, like those exposed to dust hazards who already use these in their daily work.

Protecting the vulnerable

• There should be a particular focus on protecting people who are clinically vulnerable and more likely to develop severe illness. Actions should include:
• Religious leaders, lay people, family, volunteers, staff and members of the public, including children, staying at home and self-isolating if they have a new, continuous cough or a high temperature or loss of or change to sense of smell or taste. This is to minimise risk of spread of COVID-19 to friends, the wider community, and particularly the vulnerable
• Individuals who are shielding should continue to follow the government’s advice on shielding.
• If anyone becomes unwell with symptoms of COVID-19 in a place of worship, they should go home immediately and be advised to follow the stay at home guidance which covers NHS Test and Trace. If they need clinical advice, they should go online to NHS 111 (or call 111 if they don’t have internet access). In an emergency, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. They should not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital.
• Other people who may have been in contact with the person who has become unwell should wash their hands thoroughly after the interaction, but they do not need to take any other specific action unless they develop symptoms themselves or are advised to do so by NHS Test and Trace. If they do develop symptoms, they should follow the stay at home guidance.



Individuals aged 70 years and over attending the place of worship

• Certain groups of people may be at increased risk of severe disease from COVID-19, including people who are aged 70 or older, regardless of medical conditions.
• Individuals who fall within this group are advised to stay at home as much as possible and, if they do go out, to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside of their household.
• You should consider informing these groups in particular of the symptoms of COVID-19 and current stay alert and social distancing guidance.

Individuals who are extremely clinically vulnerable/shielding
• The NHS has written to around 2.2. million who are considered to be extremely clinically vulnerable to COVID-19, advising them to shield. See the current guidance for this group. Shielded patients are currently advised not to meet more than one person from outside of their own household, and therefore not currently advised to attend places of worship.
• From Monday 6 July, those shielding individuals may choose to gather in groups of up to 6 people outdoors and form a support bubble with another household, they will therefore still be advised not to attend places of worship indoors. Advice for both the clinically vulnerable and extremely clinically vulnerable is however advisory and they can choose how to manage their own risks.

6. How can places of worship communicate this guidance to visitors?

• Each place of worship is strongly advised to implement the measures set out in this guidance to ensure that visitors comply with government’s guidance, and any risk assessments completed for the venue, for the safety of all those who visit and work there. The government strongly advises each place of worship ensures that visitors comply with the social distancing guidelines.
• Many faiths have issued specific guidance to their faith communities about some of these issues. You may wish to make the government’s information on COVID-19 available to your faith community and others, in order to challenge misinformation.
• You should consider informing certain groups of people who may be at increased risk of severe disease from COVID-19, of the symptoms of COVID-19 and current stay at home and social distancing guidance, and strongly discourage them from attending faith gatherings during this time or set aside a time for them to attend for individual devotions.
• Places of worship and faith leaders should consider how guidance can be communicated to visitors, including before they visit, in a way that is accessible and appropriate for the cultures, languages and reading levels of communities served by the place of worship.

7. Protective security

• Adapting a place of worship to COVID-19 measures will inevitably result in changes to operating policies, processes and procedures at the place of worship. Any changes to these should always be considered with regard to security implications.
• In implementing this guidance places of worship should continue to take account of protective security considerations to maintain effective security of the premises, all staff and visitors, especially around entry and exit procedures, and any queueing or crowding outside the building where people can be more exposed.
• Individuals with responsibility for the security of the venue should be consulted and involved throughout to help ensure good security is maintained as far as possible and that there are not any unintended security consequences as a result of any changes that are made. A risk assessment should be undertaken on any new measures or changes in operation to ensure risks have been considered and all practical mitigations identified and implemented.

• It is up to each place of worship to assess the level of risk, and places of worship may choose to delay opening if they do not feel they are able to safely do so under current social distancing measures.
In the process of completing a risk assessment you should consider the security factors at Annex A. (see appropriate guidance)

8. Enforcement
• It is important to be aware of the enforcement provisions, as is the case for other sectors.
• Where the enforcing authority (your local authority), identifies responsible individuals who are not taking action to comply with the relevant public health legislation and guidance to control public health risks (including this guidance), they will consider taking a range of actions to improve control of risks. For example, this would cover employers not taking appropriate action to ensure social distancing, where possible.
• Under existing Health & Safety legislation, failure to complete a COVID-19 risk assessment could constitute a breach, as could having a risk assessment with insufficient measures. The actions the enforcing authority can take include the provision of specific advice to employers to support them to achieve the required standard, through to issuing enforcement notices to help secure improvements. Serious breaches and failure to comply with enforcement notices can constitute a criminal offence, with serious fines and even imprisonment for up to two years.
• Employers are expected to respond to such actions of any advice or notices issued by enforcing authorities rapidly and are required to do so within any timescales imposed by the enforcing authority. The vast majority of employers are responsible and will join with the UK’s fight against COVID-19 by working with the Government and their sector bodies to protect their workers and the public. However, inspectors are carrying out compliance checks nationwide to ensure that employers are taking the necessary steps.






West Kent Area Meeting Trustees: Explanatory Note with regard to
‘Advice and Guidelines for re-opening our Meeting Houses and gardens’
Identify, Acknowledge, Protect and Record
West Kent Area trustees have prepared a document laying out advice and guidelines for the implementation of the expectations and requirements of our insurers, Britain Yearly Meeting and related Government directives. These are valid as of early July and subject to change. Trustees will follow developments accordingly, and respect the best intentions of Elders in the matter appropriate allowances for worship.
Trustees are responsible for protecting and promoting the legal position of our meetings according to our Governing Documents and the Charity Commission. The ‘Advice and Guidelines’ offered describe a process of risk management, rather than a list of actions allowed or restricted.
What must be achieved in order to maintain insurance cover against liability and any other legal action is a robust record of this risk management: each meeting with on-site workers is required by law to complete a comprehensive Risk Assessment in accordance with the advice and guidelines described. Following this, all actions arising, necessary for risk management, should be acknowledged and then acted upon. Finally, a written record of these 3 stages must be kept. In short, we must be seen to be aware, responsive, responsible and accountable. This follows the overriding requirements of needing to identify, acknowledge, protect and record.
Meetings are also required by law to limit attendance to 30 (unless exempted) with suitable social distancing and mitigating protection. Outdoor meetings are limited to 6 people from differing family groups. If space allows, separated groups of 6 may meet on the same site. Attendance and even groupings should be recorded for every meeting or social event. Names and contact details may be collected only voluntarily, explicitly showing willingness to be recorded and, separately, willingness to have these details available for Track and Trace.
The documentation repeatedly advises that those over 69 should stay home, whatever their health situation might be. This is not law, but allowing someone 70+ to attend might well be possible if the risk of such attendance has already been identified and provision for bilateral protection made. Not doing so might be considered irresponsible and possibly culpably negligent.
We are surrounded by risk, seen and unseen. The trustees’ document sets out the issues that must be considered and the process which must be followed. Compliance with these is necessary to maintain our liability and legal protection.

Duncan Dwinell, convenor of trustees
July 2020

West Kent