CEQ Trustees’ Property Committee provide updated guidance for Local Quaker Meetings in our area, in response to the recent removal of legal restrictions in England:
Local Meetings have responded in various ways to the lifting of government restrictions, and in the absence of regulations it is difficult to provide Meetings with prescriptive guidance. Although the prime consideration for any decisions will be health and safety issues particularly related to property, Meetings will need to balance this with their pastoral responsibilities, after proper discernment. Some Meetings will be naturally more cautious than others, and individual arrangements may depend partly on whether Meetings for Worship are “blended” or not, as Friends who feel particularly vulnerable or cautious can choose to avoid face-to-face contact if they have the option to remain at home.
Trustees Property Committee recommend that Meetings agree, document, and keep under review their COVID health & safety procedures, going forward. This will ensure that procedures do not simply drift on or lapse by default but are based on consultation and consensus and risks are appropriately managed. One way of achieving this would be to review the risk assessments that were drawn up when Meeting Houses were reopened after lockdowns, and to agree any variations. Another option would be to simply document whatever precautions may still be required, for sharing with Friends, and display. It is important to be consistent – for example it is inconsistent to sit “socially distanced” and wear face coverings in Meeting for Worship, only to remove masks and chat in close contact over coffee!
We ask all Local Meetings to consider these suggestions and take whatever action they feel is appropriate to provide a safe environment for their worshipping community.