Vicars Chatterbox


So-called "freedom day" earler this week has caused a fair amount of confusion as we moved from national restrictions to personal responsibilty. It is now a matter for each business, organisation and church to carry out a risk assessment and decide what can and cannot happen on their premises or in their buildings. In this weeks chatterbox, Reverend Julie reflects on the confusion we face and tries to explain where things stand, from our perspective. Please read on...

Reverend Julie Wearing writes:

Time’s are changing and confusing

On 19 July, we saw ‘Freedom Day’ on which the government lifted the social restrictions with an emphasis on personal responsibility as distinct to personal choice. This has happened in the middle of a wave of infection that is set to overwhelm our NHS again including our emergency services. The government position in removing the legal requirement for some restrictions has instead pushed the responsibility onto organisations through ‘guidance’ and encouragement, and on individuals as personal responsibility as opposed to personal choice. In doing so, this has opened up individuals and organisations, including our NHS workers andsupermarket workers, to abuse, for insisting on retaining COVID restrictions, as people seeing personal choice as having a ‘human right to do what they want’ e.g. a ‘right’ not to wear a mask. It has shifted the moaning at government to moaning at organisations for trying to manage circumstances to mitigate the risk of virus transmission.

Every organisation has to undertake a risk assessment and decide the best way forward; they are not easy discussions, balancing the ultimate risk of the consequence of catching COVID, which is death, and longterm illness are classed as serious risks, versus the difficulties that the restrictions cause. These risk assessments are not just done once, they are reviewed at each government announcement but also reviewed fortnightly, usually bearing in mind the local incidence rate in the community. This may mean that the restrictions agreed for church may tighten or might be eased. We will keep you updated through ‘The Chatterbox’ and where possible with at least a week’s notice.

Incidence of Coronavirus locally is currently almost 300 per 100,000. This is more than when we closed just after Christmas, but we are still keeping the church open, going to weekly services in church. Although most of us are double vaccinated, which is shown to decrease the overall risk, there is still a risk as it is not effective for everyone, there are still not good data on the reduction of transmission, we have younger people who are now the most

vulnerable. There is now emerging data over the longevity of the vaccine effectiveness (which varies on type of vaccine), which is not great reading and is why, in part, there is a booster being planned for the autumn.

Additionally, as part of our welcome to members of our church who have stayed away, or new-comers, we all have a place to respect where people are, and so the restrictions are set up so those who are more anxious about returning are not faced with having to stand/ sit next door to someone without a mask. Aerosol transmission is still the greatest risk, hence the mask requirements. For this reason, the back 2 rows of the Nave are to be kept as an

area for those who want a more stringent set of restrictions. However, if this is not sufficient for some members of our church, we can set up a separate area with aid of screens etc, so please get in touch if you are concerned at all and we will do the best we can to help and support you. To everyone, we welcome your patience with the restrictions imposed, but you are allowed to sing.

Lastly, next week is aimed as a ‘welcome back to church’ at the start of returning to a weekly service. For this reason, we will have a slightly different style, also bearing in mind those more anxious about returning, to reflect café church. Come along and join us for pastries and coffee from 10.15am, with the service beginning at 10.45am. Please bring a newspaper.

Have a good week, Blessings, Revd Julie