Corona virus – public health precautions for churches
13th February 2020
UPDATED: – General Government public health advice added at the foot of this page.
The concerns around Coronavirus and winter ‘flu are good reasons to remind parishes and communicants about good hygiene practice and the chalice.
The administration of Holy Communion has, for centuries, been considered hygienic and is of course a means of grace and healing. It is wise to follow best practice more recently laid down at times of winter flu and with the current concerns surrounding Coronavirus. These arrangements are being kept under active review at this time.
- Wash Hands. Priests presiding at the Eucharist, communion administrators and servers are reminded to wash hands. We strongly advise the use of hand sanitizers immediately before the Preparation of the Table and Eucharistic prayer.
- Chalices Use silver/silver gilt chalices only and rotate the chalice and purificator between administrations.
- Communion wine. Use only fortified wine. As a precaution, the provision of non-alcoholic Communion wine should cease and communicants wishing to receive this should receive in one kind only. The only exception to this is that non-alcoholic wine may be used where it is the practice to provide it in individual cups.
- Do not intinct. Because hands can be as much a source of pathogens as lips, intinction is no safer than drinking and can introduce germs into the cup. Intinction (dipping the bread into the wine) can also threaten those with certain immune or allergic conditions. For instance, those with gluten intolerance for whom traces of gluten can be hazardous are at greater risk when other communicants have dipped their communion wafer into the wine.
- Consider receiving Holy Communion in one kind. It is Anglican teaching that to receive the sacrament in one kind only (ie. just the bread) is to receive the sacrament in its entirety. The celebrant should always receive from the Chalice. Should a communicant feel ill or not wish to drink from the chalice then he or she ought to receive the consecrated bread alone. There is no need at this stage to cease offering the chalice to the congregation.
- The Peace. At this time there is no need to refrain from shaking hands when sharing the Peace.
- Visiting. Pastoral visitors to homes and hospitals should observe all precautions in personal hygiene before and after such visits.
Current Government advice is that individuals should follow good hygiene practices including:
- carrying tissues and using them to catch coughs and sneezes, and binning the tissue;
- washing hands with soap and water (for 20 seconds) or using sanitiser gel to kill germs.
Advice has also been issued to travellers who have returned to the UK from a number of countries.
Anyone who has returned to the UK from any of these areas in the last 14 days and develops symptoms of cough or fever or shortness of breath, should immediately:
- stay indoors and avoid contact with other people as you would with the flu;
- call NHS 111 to inform them of your recent travel to the country.