As the wearing of face coverings in public spaces such as shops becomes mandatory, the Church of England has released updated advice this afternoon which can be found here.
They have chosen to highlight the following paragraph:
We strongly advise that face coverings should be worn by all those attending a place of worship, including ministers, worshippers, staff, volunteers, contractors and visitors, where there may be other people present; remembering that they are mainly intended to protect other people, not the wearer, from coronavirus COVID-19 and that they are not a replacement for physical distancing and regular hand washing.
In terms of our local response, please continue to consider the following:
- Whilst additional measures remain in place, in Blackburn with Darwen and Pendle face coverings should be worn by all members of the congregation.
- Whilst they should encourage the wearing of face masks, clergy and church officers should not feel obliged to police or enforce this.
- There is no need to wear a face covering when leading worship as long as you are a good distance away from people. However, we advise that a mask be worn when speaking over the elements of holy communion unless they are covered (for example in a sealed ciborium) and when distributing communion. We also advise that a face covering be worn when welcoming or bidding farewell to worshippers.
- Some clergy have started to wear visors with clear plastic shields over the face in place of face covering so that the face is visible. The Bishop of London pointed out that the purpose of these is different – they may protect the wearer but will not protect others. They are therefore only effective if worn in addition to a face covering.