Reopening the Church Building during COVID-19

This DRAFT document suggests protocols and procedures for a safe reopening of the building. 

There are no dates attached to the phases. The dates will be determined by Directives from the Provincial and Public Health Authorities. It is understood that parts of this plan may need to be adapted and changed as information and understandings of the risks develop.

Phase 1: Reopening when restrictions are loosened but gatherings of 50 are still prohibited.

  • Worshipis still online only.
  • Small groups will be able to meet provided all provincial guidelines are followed.
  • Until the office is “re-opened” room bookings will be done through Scott.

Phase 2: When gatherings of 50 are permitted.

  • Worship services will take place in the building but will also be livestreamed over YouTube or another site to accommodate all those who do not feel safe attending and to ensure we do not exceed any limits. This will require some equipment such as a Wi-Fi repeater and the placement of a camera that some might find obtrusive.
  • Social distancing will be observed. Alternate pews will be roped off and limited to one household per pew. Perhaps age appropriate materials could be placed in the household groupings, particularly for any family who has toddlers. Expect to have some squirmy, gleeful or not so gleeful noises grace our sanctuary! (This would be such a great thing!) We could perhaps reserve the same space for each family week by week so that materials could be left where they are. We would have to work with Renew for this.
  • The offering plate will not be passed but will be left at the back.
  • There will be no congregational or choir singing.Vocal or wind soloists will perform at an extended distance. (Questions about the safety of public singing are many at this point in time. We will have to think carefully about this and consider measures that could render singing safe.).
  • No bulletin will be printed and the bulletin will continue to circulate through the web page so people can print their own if they wish. All information will be posted on the screen.
  • The minister will not be greeting after worship. The Minister will remain in the chancel area – to engage people (safely) from there.
  • The Nursery and Church School: 
    • depending on numbers we could be responsible with social distancing within the Holy Sherlock class and the Divine Detectives class. The Little Explorers (babies & toddlers) would present a very real problem with social distancing for several reasons.
    • all chairs, tables, door handles, light switches, bathroom, etc would need to be cleaned on Sunday mornings before worship begins.
    • Some guidelines would have to be shared with Renew church should they start worshipping at St. Andrew’s again and use these spaces. 
    • Guidelines would need to be shared with the Al-Anon & Al-Ateen groups as well. ie: take beverage containers home with them to dispose of
  • No official fellowship time
  • We will leave the sanctuary by section as called from the front. Worshippers will need to give each other space as they exit.
  • Sacramental Services (Communion and Baptisms)will be postponed until Phase 3
  • Tenantuse of church buildingsmay be staged back in, depending on the types of activities and their ability to implement appropriate protocols.(We may have to account for additional costs of cleaning being done after every gathering.) Tenants would be asked to sign an additional contract indicating their conformity with public health guidelines.

Phase 3: Full Return

  • Livestreaming will continue
  • Nursery and Sunday School: 
    • new guidelines should be developed or re-emphasized, through the Christian Education Committee, for sanitizing equipment, etc., particularly for the toddler and nursery rooms.
  • Worship:
    • Passing the Offering Plate will considered.
    • There will be congregational and choir singing.
    • Staggered departure will be encouraged – but not mandated.
    • The Minister will remain in the chancel area and engage people there.
  • Communion Services
    • ministers and elders use hand sanitizer before offering communion
    • individual pieces of bread (in cups) and juice (in cups) are offered
    • people come forward to receive communion
  • Baptism Services
    • Parents to hold infant
  • Fellowship: Food and/or drink events (coffee hours, dinners) will need to consider the region’s health and safety directives/regulations.