COVID-19 LATEST UPDATE
This update 16th April 2021, reviewed monthly. Next review: 20th May 2021
As elements of lockdown ease, the provisions for weekday and Sunday Masses remain unaffected. From 12th April weddings are permitted with 15 guests; from 17th May weddings and Baptisms with 30 guests are permitted. Throughout this time the number of guests at a funeral remains at 30. From 21st June there is a sense that there will be further easing, but there are no details about this at the moment.
After a period when we removed additional pews from the church, limiting numbers and further increasing spacing (to reflect the catastrophic situation in Havering in January), on 10th March we returned five pews to the church; ten pews are still stored in the hall (as they have been since the autumn), to allow appropriate spacing as restrictions continue.
We therefore have pews spaced at 1.25m (the Government guidance is 1m+) with a maximum of 3 people per pew (each 1m apart) unless from the same household, in which case people can sit together.
Additional safety measures remain in place, and these measures are the essential features of our Risk Assessment, completed in accordance with strict guidance from the Diocese of Brentwood:
Overall the maximum number in the church will be 85
Face coverings must be worn, unless you are medically exempt
Track & Trace forms must be completed (1 per household) or the NHS App must be used to scan in at the door
Two Stewards are in place for each Mass; they sanitise door handles, and pens used for the T&T form, as well a sanitising every bench after a Mass. They will also direct people to seats, to ensure the seating is used correctly.
Windows are opened before and during each Mass, to ensure the church is well ventilated
Holy Communion is distributed in accordance with the Bishops’ Conference guidance (Communion received on the hand, with neither priest or communicant speaking, and the priest wearing a mask)
People are asked to maintain social distance when entering and leaving the church
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 all year has been immense, relentless and exhausting. We think of teachers who are juggling ever-changing directives from Government, and I think of young people who have had exams cancelled. We pray for those working in the emergency services, key workers, and essential workers, and have 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 – 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, Saturday 6.30pm, Sunday 9.30 and 11.30am.
Later in the year additional weekday Masses will be added
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.