This is definitely a Good News Day! We are now able to open the Church again for individuals to come inside for private prayer. In addition to my normal routines of checking the Church and Cottage and praying for us, the parish and the wider world I was joined today by Frank to get ready for opening on Wednesday morning.
It will not surprise you to learn that we have to comply not only with Government advice but also advice from the national church. It is all aimed at keeping us as safe as possible. In implementing the advice we have sought to retain a character conducive to prayer in the Church. We will still have to stay socially distant preserving the 2 metre gaps between people not from the same household. Even in our spacious church this has quite an impact. We have measured this out and it means that there have to be two empty pews between each occupied pew and on the long pews there can at the same time only be two people on each pew, one at either end. As shown in the attached photo we have indicated which pews should not be occupied by tying a narrow ribbon across the entrance to them. Because the virus can more easily cling to an upholstered surface than to a wood surface we have been advised to remove the pew cushions which means that the pews to sit on are even easier to identify! We will keep a good circulation of air through the building by keeping both halves of the main door open as well as having the door by the organ open. You may not ever have seen them but there are also Victorian air vents on most of the window cills and these will also be left open to get a cross-current of air.
In the shops that have remained open we have become accustomed to one way systems and we have formalized this in the Church using the left hand door and the main aisle for those coming in and the side aisle for those leaving. You can see on the photos that discrete arrows have been chalked on these routes. It is actually a lot more straightforward that it sounds and we are following Bishop James' advice to have two people on duty in the Church while it is open to guide those entering. To avoid pinch points and "cul de sacs" such areas have been cordoned-off.
There will of course be hand sanitizers at the entrance and plastic gloves for those who want them.
The national advice is that 72 hours or 3 days after the church has last had people in it there should no longer be virus contamination and therefore not a need to reclean the church. Given the difficulty of cleaning a building like the Church the Standing Committee decided we should rely on having such 72 hour gaps. Thus, initially, we shall open the church for private prayer from 10 am to 12 noon on Wednesdays and Saturdays. We will keep these opening hours under review so as to be able to adapt to new advice and experience.
It is wonderful to now be able to say that I may soon see you in Church! We hope that before too long we may once more be able to have services in the Church.
May God Bless You and Keep You.
All Good Wishes,