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COVID-19 Risk Provisions

For Saints Demetrios and Nikitas, Plymouth, and for Apostle Andrew, Torquay.
(In compliance with the Government regulations for places of worship, with modifications announced 1 August 2020.)

Nowhere in the Government regulations is it stated that the following regulations must be passed by any meeting or committee. Fr Gregory-PalamĂĄs, therefore, has adapted them for local use, using the Government document as a template. He has been advised by Deacon Brandon and Basil Baldwin, who have both studied the Government document.

Provisions for church attendance

1) 30 people will be permitted to attend the church in Plymouth on Sunday mornings. Extra people will be permitted to light a candle without staying.

2) There is no limit in Torquay because the church is large and has a gallery.

3) Both churches have been marked to ensure compliance with 1 Meter plus.

4) People who are symptomatic or self-isolating may not attend.

5) The toilets and the building will be sanitised after every service. Disposable paper towels will be used.

6) Seats, door handles and flat surfaces must be sanitised after every service.

7) Everyone entering must use sanitiser on hands.

8) The points above will apply to baptisms, marriages and burials.

9) Apart from children under 11, masks will be worn by all attendees apart from the clergy and chanters during their period of service only. There is an exception for asthmatics and those with similar conditions.

10) Extra ventilation will be provided with more open windows and open doors, unless the weather is inclement. This provision will be reviewed when the colder weather arrives.

11) The venue manager, Basil Baldwin in Plymouth and Robert Skrivanos in Torquay, will ensure compliance. They will record the names and telephone numbers of the attendees.

12) The record will be kept for 21 days.

13) The giving of names, however, is optional, and not a condition of attending.

14) Orthros will be recited quietly by the priest from 09:30 and the Liturgy will begin at 10:30, thus facilitating conducting the service in the shortest reasonable time.

15) These times are one hour earlier on weekdays.

16) General conversation after the service is not allowed, except outside the building and then with the observation of social distancing.

17) The icons, Gospel Book and priest’s hand will not be touched or kissed in the Christian Orthodox way. Bowing replaces this devotion.

18) The priest will not put antidoron into the attendees’ hands. Instead the bread will be placed in bags.

19) No book will be shared. The proto-psaltis will ensure compliance for the chanters. Each deacon or priest will provide his own service book. The deacon will use a separate Gospel book.

20) Food and drink will not be shared in the Plymouth community centre after the Liturgy. Memorial koliva and bread will be placed into bags.
21) No one apart from the clergy or psaltis will chant.

22) The psaltes will observe social distance by being on the opposite sides of the church. For the same reason the priests will not serve together, unless they are in the same social bubble. Deacon Brandon will only serve with Fr Trayan, who will be assisted only by Diakonissa Michelle as psaltis. Fr Gregory-Palamas will always serve alone and in Torquay will be aided by Presvytera Elizabeth and Tassos as psaltes.

23) The faithful will not join in the Creed or the Lord’s prayer for the time being.

24) Baptism, marriage or funeral receptions are limited to 30 people following the events in church.

25) Gatherings of more than 30 people may be allowed for businesses, charitable, benevolent and political organisations. The Government regulations state that it is up to each body to determine whether it falls into the list of the exempted. Since the church is a charity, this regulation may modify point 1 above. In practice it will only be a source of concern at Christmas 2020. This may not now comply with the regulations of 1 August 2020.

26) Total immersion is not permitted in baptism.

27) The mother, rather than the sponsor, will hold and dress the child.

28) The collection and counting of cash donations will be handles by one person wearing gloves.

Holy Communion

1) Holy Communion will be given with a shared spoon in accordance with the Archdiocese’s specific instructions to the clergy. If your parish priest does otherwise, he will be suspended and the parishes will be left without pastoral care.

2) The Government regulation in this context is advisory, not mandatory. “Where the guidance states that an activity should take place, this is not a legal requirement under the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions), England 2020.”

3) The official advice skirts around mentioning Holy Communion and thus avoids giving offence to Roman Catholics and Orthodox.

4) The Church insurers and the Environmental Health Agency merely repeat the Government advice, because such bodies do not want to be discriminatory against religion.

5) The Theological opinion is divided. In one view the objects coming into contact with the Holy Mysteries are sanctified and cannot give harm. On another view, the utensils are not transformed.

6) The parish priest will continue to take the Holy Mysteries to the infirm in their homes.