30 June: New Risk Assessment template. Guide to opening cathedrals and church buildings.
Easing of lockdown for church buildings
Still in lockdown?
If your church building is continuing in a closed status due to local risks and constraints, the following are practical ideas to keep the building secure and well maintained:
Keeping an eye on the building
For those people who are doing the permitted daily exercise, someone could agree to incorporate the church on their walk and let you know if they spot (from the ground)
- That lead has been stolen
- That tiles or slates are missing
- That anything else looks amiss e.g. trees down or in danger of falling, door open, window broken, dangerous headstones etc.
What to do if something is amiss
- In case of a crime (e.g. lead theft, breaking in etc) contact the Police and follow their guidance. Report any damage to your insurers, Archdeacon and church architect.
- In case of something amiss that might cause immediate damage to your building, get in touch with Emma Brown, Church Buildings Adviser or your church architect
Basic guidance for the building and churchyard during closure
The guidance below should be read alongside any relevant manufacturer’s instructions.
The Church Buildings Council website has more detailed information.
- Non-essential electrical equipment should be switched off to reduce any fire risks.
- Alarm systems should be set to work
- Boilers should remain switched on to prevent any pipes from freezing, should the temperature drop.
- Heating systems are best switched to the summer settings, given the time of year
- Water systems – consider whether it is necessary to leave the water supply on or whether it should be turned off. And be mindful of your own risk assessments regarding stagnant water.
- If any work on the building has had to stop before completion, liaise with contractors to ensure the building is left safe and that you have agreement on any costs like scaffolding. Inform your insurer and any funders of the situation. [Contact with the same groups is advisable for any work that has had to be postponed.]
- Open access to the churchyard can be maintained for pedestrians as it is an important public space but ideally secure any large gates to prevent vehicular access
- Mowing should cease whilst the building is closed and whilst some might not like this, there will be a benefit to wildlife during this time. If concerned about long grass, you could consider asking someone with grazing animals to place one or two in the churchyard as this is a green and economical maintenance option.
Check with your insurer about how the closure of the building might affect the insurance, as this varies slightly according to insurer.
Concerns regarding existing or new faculty applications should emailed to Sarah Williams, DAC Secretary.
Additional Support and Information
Parish Buying has made available cleaning, handwash and other supplies in preparation for the gradual re-opening of places of worship – you can sign up on the website if you are not already a subscriber.
Ecclesiastical Insurance Guidance for churches during COVID-19.
Emma Brown our diocesan Church Buildings Adviser is here to support you, as are your Archdeacons.
There is a document on the Church of England’s CBC website with more detailed information on Covid-19 and church buildings and churchyards. Ecclesiastical Insurance also has useful guidance on their website. These are likely to answer most FAQs but please just get in touch with Emma Brown, as above if you have further questions.