Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Standing Guidance

The guidance for ringing in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland is considered separately here in line with different national rules and guidance from the respective Churches. Each country has its own rules and guidance for Covid restrictions and our guidance is based on that.

England

The current ringing guidance was established in July 2021 when ringing went back to as close to normal as have been since the start of the pandemic. In December when the Omicron variant was identified the Church of England updated their guidance but without further restriction, and then as Plan B restrictions were lifted from 27th January, with face coverings no longer mandated in any setting, the Council’s own guidance has been updated.

Scotland

The Scottish Association maintains its own guidance for towers in Scotland and that advice can be found here.

Ireland

COVID-19 Guidelines for ringing must be considered separately within the National rules that apply (Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland), which are altering levels of restrictions at different rates. They must also be within the guidelines of the respective Churches, and at all times with mind to the safety of the participants.

Wales

Wales moved to Alert Level 2 restrictions on Boxing Day. Unfortunately, this means that 2-metre social distancing is again a legal obligation for organisers of activities in public buildings.  However, the Welsh Government have since issued an Action Card for places of worship under Alert Level 2 and this makes provision for the concept of a group of 6 who don’t have to observe 2-metre social distancing between members of that group but must observe social distancing with other groups or individuals.  This is similar to the current rules for hospitality settings etc. in Wales. The Action Card is available here.

The relevant passage reads as follows:

“Prevent crowding

  • You must take all reasonable measure to ensure that that a distance of 2 metres is maintained between any persons on the premises, except between the members of a group, comprising of no more than 6 persons or members of the same household.”

The Church in Wales have agreed that this concept of a group of 6 can apply to ringing too.  All other mitigations – ventilation, face coverings, limited ringing time etc. should be observed as before and risk assessments should be updated accordingly if towers choose to ring.  All other guidance from the Church in Wales is available here.


The Central Council is not itself responsible for the implementation of these guidance notes, and the spirit underpinning all your decision making should be one of reasonableness and responsibility, taking into account the public health messaging from local and national leaders at all times, and in consultation with Chapters/PCCs, incumbents and churchwardens.

This guidance is updated to keep in line with any changes in the Church’s own guidance and policies, which can be found at the bottom of the page. Changes to that are seldom now, although it was updated at the beginning of December when the Omicron variant because an issue. Any requests for clarification can be sent to – it will get looked at as soon as possible. 

Guidance Notes

Further detail about tower safety and risk assessments can be found on the Tower Operation tab here:
https://cccbr.org.uk/resources/stewardship-and-management/

Updates

The Church of England has published its revised guidance for Places of Worship based on the Government’s lifting of Plan B restrictions. There is no longer any mandatory wearing of face coverings in Places of Worship. Consideration of whether or not to wear a face covering is now no different to any other indoor setting.

The Council has published this short guidance document covering how we may still use face coverings in certain situations, LFTs and the importance of ventilation.

The Welsh Government has issued an ‘Action Card’ for Places of Worship under Alert Level 2 and this makes provision for the concept of a group of 6 who don’t have to observe 2-metre social distancing between members of that group but must observe social distancing with other groups or individuals.  This is similar to the current rules for hospitality settings etc. in Wales. The action card can be found in the main section above.

The Church in Wales has agreed that this concept of a group of 6 can apply to ringing too.  All other mitigations – ventilation, face coverings, limited ringing time etc. should be observed as before and risk assessments should be updated accordingly if towers choose to ring. 

In Wales, the First Minister has announced that Wales will move to Alert Level 2 restrictions from 0600 on 26 December 2021. Unfortunately, this means that two-metre social distancing is again a legal obligation for organisers of activities. Towers should revise their risk assessment based on the requirement to maintain two-metre social distancing. The updated guidance from Church in Wales is available here.

We have obtained clarification on the mandatory wearing of face coverings in plances of worship. While the Council’s guidance remains that face coverings are strongly recommended, provided the ringers are in a part of the building that is not open to the public, the wearing of face coverings is not mandatory. This needs to be with the incumbent’s knowledge.

The Council’s guidance for England under Plan B is linked in the introduction, and the Summary Guidance has also been revised.

The Church of England guidance for Plan B in England has now been published and it includes the following words:

“Face coverings are currently mandatory on public transport and in a range of indoor venues including places of worship. While there are exemptions, outlined below, this is a legal
requirement”
(their emphasis).

It goes on to list the exemptions. The CofE Recovery Group has not offered any general exemption for bellringing.

The full document can be found here. Although an early paragraph suggests that face coverings might be at the discretion of individual churches, that appears to be misleading as later paragraphs on pages 2 and 3 confirm that face coverings are a legal requirement.

The Government guidance that includes places of worship in the list of mandated places for face coverings is here.

A specific section of this website has been created below which gathers together information on ventilation and CO2 monitoring, including details of what CO2 monitors are recommended and some external research.

Any further data or information which may help others towers would be welcome.

Revised guidance for Wales has been published following the move to Alert Level 0 and can be found here (PDF).

Minor update to the guidance, now including a link to the Places of Worship guidance, clarifying that ‘vaccinated’ means having had two jabs (plus the two weeks) and that vaccination status isn’t relevant to the guidance that facemasks should still be worn in certain circumstances. Revised guidance (version 2.1) is linked in Guidance Notes.

Guidance for ringing in England post 19th July has been agreed today with the House of Bishops Recovery Group and can be found here. The Church of England’s own guidance for places of worship has yet to be published but we have seen the section on bellringing and it refers to the Central Council guidance.

There has been no change to guidance this week. Engand is in Stage 3 with the Rule of Six applying indoors.

Mindful of there being a lot of guidance and how things have changed in recent months, we have prepared a one page summary that considers each of the guidance topics and mitigation measures (facemasks, hand sanitiser, rope sharing, rule on numbers, length of time, etc), explains the rationale for it, and what it means for ringing in practice.

It is specific to England but Welsh and Scottish versions will be prepared.


Ventilation and CO2 Monitoring

Guidance Notes

Independent Research

External articles:

  • John Harrison’s paper.
  • You Tube video on fan placement
    (not terribly scientific but quite interesting)
  • HSE guidance on using CO2 monitors to identify poorly ventilated spaces

CO2 Monitors

We have received frequent requests for advice about CO2 monitors. Availability on the internet fluctuates: several makes are currently (21/8/21) available online, but the government’s decision to fund them for all English schools may affect this. Prices have greatly increased in the last few weeks unfortunately.

It is vital that any monitor should be of the NDIR type*. For recording values (rather than just having a display), look for a monitor that, as well as a real time display, has a USB or PDF output (not just a USB connection for calibration). Their high cost suggests that you may wish to consider sharing them between towers, or purchasing as Branch, Association or Guild resource.


Models that have been recommended are
Aranet4
Curconsa CO2 Meter**
Dracal Pico CO2 (NB ships from Canada and needs laptop)

* On why NDIR is important: “Equivalent CO2 sensors (eCO2 sensors) should not be used. These devices only measure volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and estimate CO2 concentration based on the concentration of VOCs in the air. They do not directly measure indoor CO2 concentration.” CIBSE Ventilation Document https://www.cibse.org/emerging-from-lockdown

** Beware of possible fake Curconsa meters being sold on Amazon at significantly lower prices to the real thing. A model called an MCH3 and supplied by TWSOUL is a fake, is not manufactured by Curconsa despite claiming to be, and may not use the all important NDIR technology.


Useful Links

The latest guidance from the Church of England is available on their website.

The latest guidance from the Church in Wales is available on their website

The latest guidance from the Scottish Episcopal Church is available on their website

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