General principles for safely reopening places of worship
Those responsible for the management of places of worship must take action to minimise the potential for spreading COVID-19 among worshippers and anyone working/volunteering within the buildings and surrounding grounds.
There should be a particular focus on protecting people who are clinically at risk by ensuring they are able to maintain physical distancing and hand hygiene.
These actions should include:
- anyone who is displaying symptoms of COVID-19 or is self-isolating due to living with someone who is displaying symptoms or as a result of contact tracing staying at home to minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19
- immediately sending anyone home who becomes unwell with symptoms of COVID-19 in a place of worship, and advising them to follow guidance on what to do if you develop symptoms at NHS Inform (or call 111 if they don't have internet access and need clinical advice). In an emergency, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or if their life is at risk
Test and Protect
Those responsible for places of worship should familiarise themselves with Test and Protect, which is designed to prevent spread of COVID-19 in the community.
If an individual who has attended a place of worship has a possible COVID-19 infection, the place of worship should temporarily close so that it can be cleaned. Guidance on environmental decontamination (cleaning and disinfection) after a possible case has left a place of worship can be found in the COVID-19: guidance for non-healthcare settings (Health Protection Scotland).
In line with guidance for other venues including the hospitality sector, places of worship are asked to keep a temporary register of worshipper and staff/volunteer contact details for a period of 21 days for Test and Protect. This is to support contact tracing as part of NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect system, in the event of an outbreak linked to a particular venue. Collecting contact details is voluntary, but cooperation with Test and Protect measures will be crucial to national efforts to suppress the virus.
Places of worship should collect the following information, where possible:
- the names of individuals who work or volunteer at the place of worship
- a contact phone number for each member of staff/volunteer
- the dates and times that individuals are at work/volunteering
- the name of each worshipper, or when worshippers are attending as a small household group, the contact details for one member of that group – a ‘lead member’
- a contact phone number for each worshipper, or for the ‘lead member’ of a small household group
- date of visit and arrival and, wherever possible, departure time
Read the guidance on collection of customer and visitor details, including information on how to collect, store and securely destroy data and on how information will be shared.
If data is shared with NHS Scotland on the basis of individuals being identified as at risk of being close contacts by the Test and Protect service, NHS Scotland may need to retain the data for longer than the 21 day period and will hold the data in line with NHS information governance processes.
COVID-19 risk assessment
To help decide which actions to take to ensure a safe reopening, a COVID-19 risk assessment should be carried out, in addition to any risk assessment already in place.
You can find guidance on carrying out a COVID-19 risk assessment on the Health and Safety Executive website.