At the PACT meeting on Wednesday, we discussed how we might implement some of the new national guidance whilst still being cautious due to local conditions. The following was agreed:
We will continue to ask those attending church to sanitise their hands and to wear face masks (unless exempt) and to still exercise some social distancing (especially out of respect for those who might still be very wary of getting too close to others at this time).
At St Luke’s church we have opened all benches in the central blocks but maintained alternate closed benches in the two side blocks. Those who feel comfortable sitting nearer to others should use the central blocks, whilst those who feel they would like more distance may sit in the side blocks. At Ss Peter and Paul church we have increased capacity by opening up the rows of closed chairs in the two main (central) blocks and spacing the rows 1.2metres apart. We have kept the seating along each wall more spaced.
Stewards will be maintained at both churches and their role will evolve to be more like welcomers or ushers. They will still direct people when coming out to Holy Communion as this was considered to still be appropriate. After service cleaning demands will reduce to points of multiple contact only (door handles, ends of benches, surfaces where newsletters and Mass sheets have been placed) and we will seek to ensure that each church is cleaned thoroughly at least once per week.
There will be no need for readers to sanitise their hands before reading from now on. Various other matters were discussed including the return of altar servers (and people to supervise them), the return of the offertory procession (agreed to defer for now) and music. In respect of the latter, while it was agreed that we should not sing as a congregation yet, we can have organ music before and after Mass and music during Holy Communion.
Whilst there have been several requests for this, it was agreed that we should not yet restore the Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help at the Thursday evening Mass as it would be outside the spirit of limiting the time that people spend indoors.
Some groups that meet at Ss Peter and Paul's (the UCM and the Bereavement Group) have already begun to do so again and some others (AA and Monton Voices) will do so from September. The SVP (and the other UCM group) can begin to meet again at St Luke's when they feel ready to do so.
Finally, from this weekend, the priests will restore the practice of greeting people as they leave church at the end of Mass, standing outside if possible and still encouraging people not to gather.