COVID-19 LATEST UPDATE
This update: 21st July 2021
From 19th July legal requirements in relation to the wearing of face coverings and social distancing were removed in England. However, both the Government and the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) guidance stress that we have local responsibility, taking into account the size of our church, and the prevalence of cases in the area.
For this reason, and in consultation with the Parish Council, we are taking a “two-step” approach.
From July 19th until August 16th the following arrangements will apply (these are mainly a continuation of all that we have done since reopening in summer 2020):
– We strongly encourage face coverings to be worn while in church. We can no longer insist on this, but we are advised that this is the best way to minimise transmission of the virus, and ask everyone to play their part.
– Windows and doors will be open, to ensure the greatest possible ventilation.
– Sanitiser will be provided by the doors.
– Track and Trace will be requested. We have been advised by the NHS that if 2 people who have been to Mass test positive we will receive a “venue alert”; this asks others who have been in the church to take a test, but does not mean people need to self-isolate (unless their test is positive).
– Stewards will clean “touch points” (ends and tops of pews, door handles, etc.), after each Mass
– We have returned two pews, and removed the red crosses which guide seating, so the pews can be filled. The 1metre+ space will remain in front of each pew. If you would prefer that no-one sits immediately next to you, then take a “please leave this space free” card, and place it next to you on the pew.
– Kneelers can once again be used.
– This arrangement will give a maximum of approx. 125 in the church, and we will consider this to be our usual Covid maximum.
The practical arrangements for the celebration of Mass are:
– At Communion, you will be guided by a Steward, one half of the church at a time, to keep minimal “brush past” contact going up and down the aisle. Communion will be distributed at the altar step, and at the font. Communion will be distributed under one kind, i.e. just the host, and not the chalice. We ask that you continue to receive the host into your hand, and not on the tongue.
– Recognising the discomfort of wearing a mask for a long period, we will continue to omit the Gloria, Creed, Intercessions and one of the readings. This will mean the celebration of weekend Masses will last for approximately 35-40 minutes.
Please do not come to church (or leave your home) if you have Coronavirus symptoms – please get a test.
Please get the vaccine, if you have not already done so
The Livestream remains, with the new permanent link: https://stream.seccomgroup.com/channel/st-edward. This is to help all those who are unable to return to Mass, or who do not yet feel secure in doing so.
Everything will be reviewed prior to 16th August.
During August Fr Dominic will meet with our older altar servers, to arrange training for new servers, and he will also meet with those who lead music in the church. We hope to resume congregational singing from 5th September.
We continue to pray for all of those affected by Covid-19. We think especially of those who have lost loved ones, and of the many parishioners who work in Queens and other local hospitals; their work remains immense, relentless and exhausting. We think of teachers who are juggling ever-changing directives from Government, and of young people who have had exams cancelled. We pray for those working in the emergency services, key workers, and essential workers, and we offered special Masses each Thursday in Lent for those who have served at the heart of the pandemic. We are 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.
We are very hopeful that vaccinations will make an enormous difference across the country and the world, and encourage everyone offered a vaccine to take it. We thank those from within our community, and across Romford, who are helping at vaccination centres, as well as those continuing to volunteer at testing centres.
We again stress that – ever since March 2020, and now until at least November 27th 2021 – 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. Most certainly, do not leave your home for any reason if you have Covid symptoms, and make sure you get a test as soon as you can. And do not come to church if you have medical conditions that make you more vulnerable to Covid. You should be shielding.
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. We have kept the church open except for those moments when we were instructed to close, as we believe that closing the church doors would, for some, be a cause of despair, and very damaging.
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, Thursday 9am, Friday 9am
Saturday 6.30pm, Sunday 9.30 and 11.30am.
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.