Published 21 Jul 2023
The New Normal for Religious Gatherings
After the temporary closure of churches and other worship places in responding to the novel coronavirus pandemic, faith communities are now opening amid evolving government restrictions. In an effort to resume religious rites and acts of worship, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has offered guidelines for church leaders and officials when implementing safety precautions in administering any religious mass gathering.
In this article
- Top 6 Risks and Challenges Associated With Church Reopening and How To Deal with Them
- Using Digital Church COVID-19 Checklists
- Featured Church COVID-19 Checklists
Top 6 Risks and Challenges Associated With Church Reopening and How To Deal with Them
As the global situation constantly changes every day, new policies and regulations are also being implemented by different lawmakers across the globe. Therefore, church reopening guidelines might also be changed, revised, or improved. In regards to this, church organizations should establish a safety plan with a clear set of guidelines before opening chapels, temples, and other buildings to a large mass of attendees. Here are the top six risks and challenges associated with church reopening and some helpful tips on how to deal with them:
- Unsanitized worship areas – church facilities should be sanitized as often as possible to prevent contamination from viruses and other infectants. Create a cleaning schedule and coordinate with authorized staff to discuss and evaluate what the housekeeping process should entail.
- Shortage of supplies – since necessary supplies are high in demand, these items should be ordered sooner as they might be difficult to procure. This includes toilet papers, sanitizers, paper towels, and soaps.
- Strict compliance with social distancing – churches can be crowded at certain times and certain locations. Leaders must encourage members to practice safe distances at all times during the service. Also, leaders should also take into consideration having multiple worship sessions to maintain proper distance and space for meaningful worship.
- Proper welcoming procedures – handshaking makes visitors feel welcomed during a conference. However, to lower the risks of acquiring or spreading the virus, people are not encouraged to do handshakes during the mass gathering. Furthermore, church officials must post clear signages reminding attendees about this matter. Proper hand hygiene should be strictly observed when welcoming visitors before entering the place of worship. Offer hand sanitizer or alcohol upon greeting the visitor.
- Ministering young attendees – delegating a space for children is important to maintain the reverence during the service. In line with this, church officials should ensure that these areas must be sanitized at all times.
- Establishing consistency and more effective communication – continue to over-communicate the importance of following safety rules while administering and attending the service. Also, make sure that all policies adhere to the new and updated regulations provided by the government. Sharing plans to church members, staff and other officials help them and the community to adapt to new changes and embrace the new normal.
Using Digital Church COVID-19 Checklists
Why use SafetyCulture?
In an effort to help church admins in facilitating a good worship service, we offer SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor) church COVID-19 checklists which you can download for free.
Please note that this checklist is a hypothetical example and provides basic information only. It is not intended to take the place of medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should also seek your own professional advice to determine if the use of such a checklist is permissible in your workplace or jurisdiction.
Featured Church COVID-19 Checklists
This generic checklist can be used by housekeeping managers to perform church facilities inspections before reopening after lockdown. This checklist is fully customizable and is broken down into 3 subparts:
- General information - this includes information about the business, key person involved and meeting schedules
- Hazard identification and risk assessment - this identifies the risks and hazards found within the premises, the levels of impact of the identified hazard (negligible, marginal, critical and catastrophic), and the mitigation actions needed.
- Facility reopening checklist - this includes planning, cleaning and disinfecting (physical facilities, exteriors, restrooms), social distancing measures and communication
The number of return-to-new-normal and post-pandemic gatherings is starting to increase—this includes church congregations. To prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their facilities, faith-based and religious organizations can use this checklist as the initial line of defense before people are allowed to enter their premises. In addition, this template allows you to:
- Ask individuals questions related to the COVID-19 prevention; be clear on when they should not be allowed entry.
- Ask members if they worked in facilities with recognized COVID-19 cases; be clear on when they should not be allowed entry.
- Add comments (if any) and sign.
This generic COVID-19 safety assessment can be used by religious organizations to strengthen their screening process before people are allowed to enter their premises. With the goal to prevent COVID-19 spread as the places reopen, do the following:
- Check for any flu-like symptoms in the last 30 days
- Determine if their job is considered “essential” during the height of the pandemic (if yes, were there any recent close contacts that are COVID-19 positive)
- Ask if their employers routinely implemented safety protocols
- Review travel history for the last 14 days
- Confirm if they obliged by the state's quarantine guidelines