We have had further discussions with the Church of England Recovery Group and between the small CCCBR team. We are cognisant of those who want strong guidance, those who want to be left to make their own decisions at their church, and indeed those who don’t think anyone should be ringing at all. There are many considerations.
We have had lawyers look at the legislation as others have, including lawyers who are bellringers, and the one thing that they all agree on is that the drafting is on the wrong side of poor! Not defining ‘gathering’ is particularly unhelpful and enables one to interpret the law to support whatever you want to do. No one knows how to define ‘mingling’, or whether socially distanced ringers, performing a function for a church service, is mingling or not. So whereas we are not now claiming that the legislation stops ringing in Tiers 2 and 3, the overall intention of all governments at the moment is to try and put the brakes on this surge in the virus. We are still of the opinion that a cautious stance is the right stance.
The key messages from the Recovery Group were for us all to recognise the following:
- The spirit of the law is that we should reduce contact with other households
- Infection levels are getting worse
- We all have a part to play in making things better
- We all need to act responsibly for ourselves and towards each other
We are still not advocating ringing in Tiers 2 and 3 but it is not for the Central Council to prevent it. If any bands, after due consideration of their own tower and personal circumstances, with risk assessments in place and agreement with their Church, decide to continue ringing in accordance with the current guidance (15 minutes, 2m apart, face coverings, hand hygiene), that decision rests with them.
We have now prepared some revised and simplified guidance notes that have been updated based on what has been learned about the virus over the last six months. Note in particular the ones about personal risk assessment and your own tower environment. These should be particularly considerations if you decide to ring in Tiers 2 and 3. [These have not been updated on the website yet, but will shortly]