How Mosques can remain COVID-19 secure venues

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Since the 14th September, lock down restrictions in England have tightened again due to the rising COVID-19 cases. Different parts of the UK have been affected more than others – the midlands and north east in particular seeing curbs on their freedoms with strict guidelines in place.

However, the UK Government has clarified that for places of worship, in similarity restaurants, shops and other venues in what is being classified as “COVID19-secure” venues, the Rule of 6 applies. The Rule of 6 refers to the number of people attending per group, rather than the total number of people in the venue. Thus, places of worship have COVID-19-secure measures in place, may continue to operate as before, but with a limit of six people attending per group.

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This has come as welcomed news to all people of faith, as expressed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who said “Worship is the work of God – not a social gathering – and gives the strength to love and serve”

The government have over the past week increased lockdown restrictions in Bolton, as Manchester Evening News have reported, a  ‘Covid cell’ made up of senior cops, council licensing officers and Public Health England officials are meeting daily to assess the current situation within the borough, and decide what regular  action must be taken to deter breaches of lockdown.

The article in the MEN reported an incident where officers had received a call about a large gathering outside a Bolton Mosque and Education Centre in Devonshire Road. However, when the police pulled up outside at about 6.15pm, there were no signs of any crowds. A Mosque member of staff invited PC Wilkinson inside and showed him the extensive safety precautions in place, including a one-way system and hand sanitiser stations.

Picture via Manchester Evening News

 

The complaint was dismissed and the Mosque given the all-clear, but this gives an indication of what the next phase of the pandemic holds for places of worship.

The key term that has come out of the latest Government guidelines that we must consider, is “COVID Secure”. This term is allowing places of worship to remain open and operational, even in areas of the UK that are seeing rises in the Coronavirus. Whilst this move is welcomed, we must understand what it means to be Covid Secure and how we can remain Covid Secure to ensure places of worship can remain to serve communities and continue to be attended by worshippers.

 

Mosque in Bradford first to have Virus control technology:

 

According to the official Government Website, a Covid Secure venue must adhere to the following:

  • We have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment and shared the results with the people who work here
  • We have cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures in line with guidance
  • We have taken all reasonable steps to help people work safely from a COVID-19 Secure workplace or work from home
  • We have taken all reasonable steps to maintain a 2m distance in the workplace
  • Where people cannot keep 2m apart we have ensured at least a 1m distance and taken all the mitigating actions possible to manage transmission risk.

 

Places of worship must ensure they have the above checks and guidance in place to remain open and ensure and with rising covid-19 cases, they are protecting the worshippers and congregants.

Faith Associates has been providing COVID-19 Risk Assessments across the UK in partnership with various Council for Mosques, including Lancashire and Bradford to ensure Mosques are COVID-19 Secure venues.

 

Many faith institutions followed government guidelines in order to first re-open following the national Lockdown in June and July. However, at this stage of the pandemic, more will be required to keep places of worship open and communities safe – following the strict government protocols and implementing the guidance is critical.

A key part of being able to remain open, is having an adequate ‘Response Strategy’ to any potential COVID-19 outbreak in your institution. It is imperative that all trustees, management, support workers and volunteers play an integral role in understanding the process of what would happen if a worshipper tested positive for Covid-19. To keep places of worship under the Covid Secure banner, we all have a part to play in understanding what it means to be Covid secure and understand the processes in responding to any potential positive cases.

 

To avoid the further spread of COVID-19 that could endanger your congregation and result in a Mosque closure book a risk assessment today through this link https://faithassociates.co.uk/publications/covid-19-risk-assessment-keeping-our-mosques-safe.

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