Arrangements for reopening the church
The church is now normally open for Mass and for individual prayer, although government restrictions may affect this from time to time, notably during November.
Please check our main Mass/Services page for details of times. This page details the safety restrictions which currently apply to everybody who comes to church.
The information below applies only when there are no overriding government restrictions in force.
Arrangements for Mass
Except for periods of stricter lockdown imposed by government, it is generally possible to attend Mass at St Laurence’s, but with restrictions on how we celebrate Mass, including limiting the number of attendees in the church to around 65. Masses will resume at their regular Sunday times, with an additional 5pm Sunday Mass. While a very welcome step forward, this is not yet a return to normality. In particular, this applies to how we manage the limitation on numbers.
To spread attendance more evenly over the available Masses, Fr Simon asks that all parishioners consider alternatives to their usual attendance. Options include:
- Attend another Sunday Mass (8am and 5pm are likely to be less busy).
- Attend a weekday Mass instead of Sunday.
- Continue to follow Mass via live streaming.
Continued attendance at live streamed Mass is particularly encouraged for anyone with underlying health conditions or in other more vulnerable categories. Anyone with possible Covid-19 symptoms must not come to church.
Please see our main Mass and other Services page for details of when Mass will be celebrated.
Check the newsletter for details of Zoom virtual tea/coffee after 9.30am and 11am Masses.
It is possible that some people attending busier Masses may find that the church is full and they cannot come in. Should this happen, your patience and support is appreciated. We will aim to record contact details for anyone not able to enter, so that we can try to ensure you have priority access at Mass for the following weekend.
Below are the current arrangements for Mass. Procedures are still being developed. If there are any changes, we will share them here.
- To support the NHS Test and Trace scheme, we are collecting contact
details for Mass attendees. Participation is voluntary but strongly
- If you have a smartphone or tablet, please follow the instructions on posters around the church to register online, either using the official “NHS Covid-19” app, or on our own tracking page.
- Otherwise, it would greatly speed up this process if you could bring with you a slip of paper, on which you have written a contact name and phone number or email address for your group, plus the number of people in the group. You may wish to download and print this PDF page.
- Some paper forms and pencils are also available in church.
Please remember that you need to check-in or provide your details each time you come to church for a public service.
You can find out more about the NHS Test and Trace scheme and how it applies to the church here.
- Please follow the directions of stewards, particularly on how to queue and where to sit.
- Doors will not open until cleaning of benches has completed following the previous Mass. For the 9.30am and 11am Sunday Masses this will normally be 15-20 minutes before Mass starts. If queuing outside, please maintain a distance of at least 2m from anyone not in your household.
- Please enter the church through the rear (porch) door, when directed by the stewards.
- Fill the church from the front. Alternate pews will be closed. Each bench can accommodate up to 7 people from one household, or one couple and one individual from different households, or two individuals from different households.
- Mass books are not available. Newsletters will be available: if you pick one up, you must take it away with you.
- Please maintain a 2m distance at all times (except from the minister when receiving communion).
- Face coverings are now mandatory, unless you are exempt from wearing one.
- There will be no collective singing during Masses; this remains forbidden as a potential source of virus transmission among large groups.
- Please remain in your bench to receive communion. Those receiving communion should stand; others remain seated. The eucharistic minister will proceed along the bench in front of you. Communion will be given in one kind only and in the hand only. Please extend your hands to ensure maximum distancing. The ministers will wear face coverings.
- There will be no children’s liturgies at this time. Resources for children are available from CAFOD.
- Please follow the instructions of the priest and stewards in leaving the church. To enable cleaning and the entry of the next Mass group, please leave promptly. You will not be able to remain in the church for private prayer. Please do not wait in the car park.
- The toilets will be open, but we ask everyone to reduce risk of virus transmission by keeping use of these facilities to a minimum, wiping down all surfaces touched using the cleaning materials provided, and washing hands well. Young children must be accompanied. Please ensure that any queuing respects 2m distancing.
Your support and prayers are greatly appreciated at this time, as we work together to improve this experience over the coming weeks.
An opportunity to contribute to the discussion on how to improve these arrangements will be provided at each online Parish Open Meeting, which all are welcome to join. Follow the Open Meetings link on the left for more details.
Additionally, it continues to be possible to open the church for individual prayer. Please see the main Mass/Services page for details of when the church is open.
The following rules should be followed when coming to church for individual prayer:
- Do not enter the church premises at all if you are unwell, particularly if you are experiencing a high temperature, a new continuous cough, sneezing, sore throat, loss of sense of smell or taste, or if you have been in contact with anyone with these symptoms in the last two weeks.
- Enter and exit only via the porch.
- Clean your hands with the supplied sanitiser on entering and leaving the church.
- Maintain a distance of at least 2 metres from other people (apart from members of your own household) at all times. This is best done by sitting near the middle of a bench, and keeping one empty bench between you and the next person.
- Respect the advice of the stewards regarding where to sit. Please do not use the balcony.
- Please observe a respectful silence in the church at all times. If you wish to speak to a fellow parishioner, please wait till you have left the building, and continue to maintain a minimum 2 metres distance once outside.
- Try to avoid touching anything in the church unless you need to, including the pew in front of you. If you inadvertently do touch something, please inform the steward so it can be wiped down.
- You may bring your own prayerbooks or devotional material, as there will be no books or printed material available in the church.
- Access is not permitted to any part of the premises apart from the main church. In particular there will be no access to the toilets, kitchen, parish rooms or garden.
- As always you will need to ensure your car registration has been entered on the keypad if you are staying for more than 30 minutes.
These measures are necessary in order to minimise risk of spreading the virus, particularly to more vulnerable people, and because if any churches are seen to be operating in a way that may increase the spread of the virus, there is a risk that stricter measures such as prohibition or enforced closure notices could be reimposed. We hope that by working effectively together, we will be able to keep the church open safely for private prayer and Mass.
If you can help with stewarding and are not in a vulnerable group, please contact Fr Simon by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).