Once again...

...we are in a lockdown. This time though, it is different.  We have a new variant to contend with but we also have on our side a vaccine. A vaccine that will save lives. And as you read this, the vaccine is already being rolled out in Lincolnshire and across the UK.

However, we must all still play an importnat part too. Our behaviour, coupled with the vaccine could save so many lives. Hence a little refresher on lockdown practices, plus a few additional suggestions shared with us from various groups and organisations.

It is a blessing that the government has decided that in the present lockdown we "can attend places of worship for a service." Thank you to everyone who contacted their MP during the second lockdown, asking their MP to request to see the evidence for the closure of places of worship. The government's current decision was based on the heartening results of places of worship diligently applying their Covid Secure measures. It would be foolish and dangerous to allow our determination and compliance to slacken now.  Please take a few minutes to revisit the guidelines, thoughts, and practices that have helped us stay safe so far.

12 Points of safety

Below are 12 reminders to help us to keep each other safe and to prevent the closure of the church due to infection.

  1.  Symptoms: Do not turn up for Mass if you experience a new persistent cough, a high temperature, or a change in your sense of smell or taste.
  2. Wrap up warm: Good ventilation is important so we will continue to keep church and hall very, very well ventilated for Holy Mass. The church will  have the heating on before Holy Mass begins, but there's no escaping that at this time of year once the doors are opened  cold air and draughts will follow.. In addition to wearing your warmest clothes, you could bring a blanket for your knees and a shawl for your shoulders! 
  3. Don't mingle: During this present lockdown, we are not permitted to use our attendance at church as an occasion for relaxed socialising. The stewards will help us to keep our two metre spacing during Holy Mass, and thankfully nobody has been idly chattering as they await the start of Holy Mass or queue to leave. Afterwards, once we are outside the church or hall ,we must not linger to mingle with people outside our household or social bubble. 
  4. Hand sanitising is crucial: Remember that hand sanitiser (or soap and water) should be used liberally, and rubbed into all parts of the hands for a full twenty seconds.
  5. Wear a face cover: We should take care to wear our face coverings properly at Holy Mass, making sure that mouth and nose remain covered. Face coverings are compulsory at Holy Mass, apart from individuals who are legitimately exempt. If you are experiencing discomfort because of your mask or feel faint ,attract the attention of a steward. It is fully acceptable to go outside for a while and return to Mass when you feel better. A steward will be with you to help you.
  6. Two metres:  The seating for Holy Mass is arranged to keep individuals or household groups two metres from others. While queuing to enter, and when moving around, we should take care to maintain that two metre spacing.
  7. Follow the stewards' guidance. Our stewards have generously volunteered to help people stay safe, and their instructions should be followed promptly and cheerfully. Without the stewards, we would not be having Holy Mass with a congregation.
  8. You do not have to attend Mass. Anybody who feels anxious or diffident about taking part in Holy Mass should be reassured that we don't have to take part. Our bishops have suspended the Mass Obligation, so nobody is obliged to attend, and the bishops hope that people who are at special risk, especially people subject to shielding, will choose to stay at home. You are not being disloyal, you are not a bad Catholic, if you decide that instead of going to Holy Mass you will stay at home because, acting on your own judgement, you decide that's how you are going to to protect your health, protect the health of others, and safeguard the NHS.
  9. Remain in your allocated pew at all times except for Holy Communion and leaving the church. Stewards will also help you to leave the church after the Dismissal.
  10. Remain seated throughout the Mass.
  11. Holy Communion: The stewards will help everyone to stay distanced while going to and retruning from taking Holy Communion. When you take Communion hold both your hands palm up one on to of the other to allow Father to place the host in your palm.  Once you have the host step to the side before placing your host on your tongue. Follow the one-way system to return to your pew. 
  12. Do not sing. Organ music will be played at some of the Masses but you must not sing. 

Thank you to everyone whose generosity with their time and talents has made it possible, and continues to make it possible, to achieve Covid Secure certification so we can celebrate Holy Mass with a congregation. And thank you to everyone whose cheerful compliance with the necessary measures has helped us remain safe and continue to worship together.

Let's continue to pray for all those suffering from Covid19, the medical staff who care for them, the scientists working to eliminate the disease and advise the government, and those in government and the civil service who are charged with the responsibility of keeping us all safe.