COVID-19 LATEST UPDATE
Havering – National Lockdown
This update 5th January 2021, reviewed weekly. Latest review: 20th January 2021
Fr Dominic writes: “With local Covid cases so high, and rising locally and nationally, last night the Government announced a National Lockdown, to last for at least 6 weeks. Our schools are closed, and many shops and other businesses are closed.
I pray for all of those affected – I think especially of the many parishioners who work in Queens and other local hospitals; their work at this time is immense, relentless and exhausting. I think of teachers who are juggling ever-changing directives from Government, and I think of young people who have had exams cancelled. I am very mindful of those in the community who live alone, those who are shielding, and medically vulnerable. This is a time for each of us to hold the whole community in prayer.
Within the legislation in force for the third national lockdown is the provision that places of worship can remain open for acts of collective worship – in our case, Mass. Tonight, with a group of parishioners, I have considered this carefully. It is clear that our hospitals are under very great pressure: more than 1 in 100 people in Havering are Covid positive right now, and the situation is very serious. Many parishioners are ill and many more are isolating. The group of parishioners that met by Zoom tonight were very helpful in the earlier lockdown, and represent the different social and catechetics groups in the parish. In considering how we can best respond to the current situation they have again been helpful tonight, as have emails received when I asked for your thoughts in last week’s email to parishioners.
Listening carefully to everything, I again stress that – ever since March – the Bishops have suspended the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. The Livestream is there to help everyone access Mass safely, and from your homes. Nothing can replace receiving the Eucharist, but in a time of such crisis Spiritual Communion is available to everyone, and helps keep everyone safe. The Government’s clear message is “Stay at Home” unless it is essential to leave the house.
It is also the case that the church is a much needed sacred space, an oasis for prayer and peace, and very helpful for people in navigating such uncertain times. To close the church doors would, for some, be a cause of despair, and very damaging. For this reason, after very careful reflection, the Mass schedule at the church will be maintained, and the church will be open for people to attend Masses. However, there will be additional measures to ensure safety for those who do attend, and numbers will be further limited. Again I repeat that the safest thing to do at the moment is to stay at home, and watch and pray Mass from home. Most certainly, do not come to church if you have symptoms of CoronaVirus. You should get a test, and stay at home. And do not come if you have medical conditions that make you more vulnerable to Covid. You should be shielding.
If you are alone and need help, please do reach out and let us know; there are volunteers who will readily help with shopping, picking up prescriptions, etc. If you are struggling with loss of income, we can provide you with food for you and your family, as best we can.
Please call or email at any time – especially if you know someone who is alone and needs a visit, or any other support.”
To access the Livestream go to our dedicated Livestream page for links to Masses (click here).
The church is open whenever Mass is being celebrated, usually from about half an hour before Mass begins. This is an opportunity for private prayer and donations to the food bank.
Our Mass schedule is:
Wednesday 12.15pm, Saturday 6.30pm, Sunday 9.30 and 11.30am.
Later in the year additional weekday Masses will be added
Key Covid-safe measures for all Masses are:
Before coming to Mass: please make sure you do not have any Covid-19 symptoms (high temperature, persistent cough); please bring a mask/face-covering (unless you are exempt). We will ask you to sign a “track and trace” form, or to register using the NHS app. You should not be deemed a “close contact” of anyone you encounter in church, due to the measures we have in place, but we are committed to helping the NHS and Public Health England in every possible way, and details of places people have visited are useful to them.
The maximum numbers are 30 (and this can increase slightly where people from the same household sit together), with pews spaced at 2.4m. The windows are open for ventilation – please bring a coat!
It is best to arrive early to help our stewards to make best use of all the available seats.
There are fuller details, including some differences to the celebration of Mass, on a sheet available when you come to church.
During the times the church is open we are also serving as a donation point for local foodbanks; anything donated will be vital food for local families. Especially useful at the moment are toiletries – soap, shampoo and toothpaste. You can also bring tins, cereal, and anything with a long sell-by date. We will regularly highlight goods which local foodbanks tell us are most needed in any one week.
We are sending a weekly email to all parishioners – if we do not yet have your email address, then send us an email (Romford@dioceseofbrentwood.org) and we will add you to the list.
If you know anyone who is on their own at this time, we have a “phone tree” via the SVP, to ensure parishioners are telephoned regularly, as a way to combat loneliness. If anyone is in any particular need regarding shopping, etc., we can help arrange things for them. Just let us know by phone or email.