💒 Click to read our church ‘COVID-19 Risk Provisions’

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 September 2020.)

Provisions for church attendance

1) No limit is now imposed for the number attending the Sunday Liturgy, the number depends on how many people can be safely accommodated while adhering to social distancing requirements. There should be no mingling between groups of six and even within those groups people should continue socially to distance from those with whom they are not living or with whom they are in a support bubble.

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.

12) They will record the names and telephone numbers of the attendees.

13) Places of worship are exempt from both the legal requirement to collect QR codes for the purpose of Test and Trace. The Archbishop, however, encourages us still to collect this information, so the venue managers will list those present in paper format. The record will be kept for 21 days.

14) There is still a requirement to conduct the services in the shortest possible time. For the time being Orthros will be recited quietly by the priest and psaltes from 09:30 and the Liturgy must begin at 10:30. Fr Gregory-Palamas and Fr Trayan will break in with the Great Doxology if Orthros does not finish promptly at 10:29. Confessions, therefore must be arranged at times other than before the Sunday service. If the priest is late on account of traffic problems, Orthros will be cut to ensure the Liturgy begins at 10:30.

15) Weekday Liturgies in Plymouth will commence at 09:30 with Orthros earlier. In Torquay the times are the same as on Sundays.

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 or distributed by a helper using tongs.

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 either community 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) Up to 30 people may attend a funeral.

25) Up to six people may attend a baptism, unless it is in the context of communal worship. The priests may, therefore, permit a greater number if the ceremony follows on from Orthros, Vespers or another service occurring on a saint’s day.

26) 15 people are permitted to attend a marriage. You may, however, transmit the ceremony to others using the internet. There is no Wifi connection at Torquay.

27) Total immersion is not permitted in baptism.

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

29) 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 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.