Covid 19 Guidelines and Church re-opening

We have just been granted permission from Edinburgh Presbytery to reopen the Old Parish for Sunday worship and are working towards doing this on Sunday 16th August at 10.30am.

Social distancing restrictions means that only 49 people can attend the service, observing 2 meter distancing rules, and so your usual seat might be roped off, but you should be able to sit with members of your household (should you wish!).

Should the number attending reach 49 I am afraid we’ll have to ask people to wait outside and it might be that we set up a ‘booking’ system for future weeks, but we are anticipating a cautious return rather than a stampede.

The first few weeks of worship will be an opportunity for us to work out the practicalities of re-opening, so please bear with us as we try to get it right.  

We are not permitted to sing, although there will be organ music, and so the service will be shorter than usual, and in a slightly different format.

Face coverings are mandatory. Should you forget to bring yours we will have spares at the door. There will also be hand sanitiser at all the doors, where you will be met by a team of welcomers who will record your name and a contact number for track and trace purposes. Your details will be kept confidential and destroyed after 21 days. Another welcomer will then guide you to a seat.

The offering – lets get to the important bit here – will not be taken during the service as we are unable to pass the plate from one person to another, but we will  have offering plates at the doors as you leave.

If you intend to sit in the back section of the church – the rear section of the centre block or the back few pews of the North transept -  please enter by the North transept door, and if you plan to sit in the front few rows of the centre block, in the porch or the front of the North transept, please enter by the porch door. And if you intend to sit in the choir block or the chancel, please enter by the Priest’s Door. Hopefully all will become clear on the 16th!

It will take some time to get things ‘right’ and I am sure we will approach the experience with our usual good humour and helpfulness, but that means we might miss our 10.30 deadline, so please be patient.

The Session appreciates that for some, coming back to worship in the church is hugely important, while for others it brings worries and concerns.

I will continue to post my weekly reflections on the Facebook and church website pages.

Could you help to spread the word to others who might not be on email? That would be much appreciated.

Currently we are able only to hold one service per week – after the 10.30 service the building will be closed for 72 hours to allow any traces of the virus to die, after which the church will be thoroughly cleaned and closed again until the following Sunday morning.

And most importantly . . . the toilets will be open before and during the service, with a ‘monitor’ in attendance.

And it goes without saying that if you feel unwell or have any symptoms of the virus we ask that you stay at home and do not attend worship. Thank you.

These are the measures asked of us by the Church of Scotland in conjunction with the Scottish Government.

I look forward to seeing you on the 16th or at a future date.

Best wishes,