Church of England Diocese of Portsmouth St. Mary, Portsea

Face Coverings Mandatory in Places of Worship From 8th August

2 Aug 2020, 12:15 a.m.

As you may be aware, we have continued to respond to the advice and guidance we are being given by Government, National Church and the Diocese.

Our principle aim in all that we are doing is to seek to provide as safe a space as possible for everyone to be able to Be with God, be with others and be with the rest of creation.

It has been good to begin to see familiar faces at services and in the churchyard, but at the same time we are very conscious of the fact that for others such things are still not possible.

We are trying to ensure we support everyone, whatever they are able, or not able, to do. If we can help or support you please do let us know

The situation at present is that St Mary’s is open every day for private prayers from 9am – Noon.

Please follow the guidance; enter by the West Door and use the hand sanitiser; find a seat; and leave by the North Aisle Door.

There are Eucharists at St Mary’s on Sunday at 8am (Book of Common Prayer) and 10am and at St Faiths at 9am and St Wilfrid’s at 4pm.

There is also a celebration at Noon on Wednesdays at St Mary’s. It will help us to plan and prepare for these services if you could let me know in advance if you intend to be at them.

St Mary’s currently has sufficient capacity for 80 (so far 55 has been the maximum attendance), but the other churches can only admit 20.

We don’t want to have to turn people away at the door because we did not know they were coming and there is no space. We also need to keep a record for ‘Track and Trace’ of those attending.

Last weekend we received advice on Face Coverings. The ‘strong’ advice’ from Church of England and Diocese is that everyone should wear a face covering at public worship. This is to reassure those who wish to attend that this is a ‘safe’ space.

The ministers will wear a visor to preside and preach and then wear a face covering to administer communion.

However the Prime Ministers as recently announced that from 8th August it will be a legal requirement to wear a face covering in a place of worship.

Please do listen for clarification of any other changes. In the original advice there were clear exemptions from wearing a face mask listed by the Government which included –

• young children under the age of 11

• not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability

• if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress

It is likely (but in the fast changing world we are in not certain!) these will continue to be permitted exceptions – again please ask for latest advice from us if you are not sure.

Please do use your own judgement as to whether this applies to you. If you see someone without a face covering please be aware that there may well be a good reason why they are not doing so, and avoid being ‘judgemental’.

This is a difficult area, but I hope we can continue to seek to work together and do all we can to support each other and overcome any challenges and issues that arise. If you are uncomfortable or uncertain then please chat to one of my colleagues.

It is also important to note that in all of this we still need to maintain a 2m social distance, both inside and outside church and follow all guidance on hand washing and hygiene.