The Welsh Government have announced that from Saturday 7th August 2021, Wales will officially move to Alert Level 0 bringing an end to most of the Coronavirus restrictions. The experience across all our churches will be slightly different as each church will need to function according to the results of the latest Risk Assessments. Things we need to be aware of when coming to Mass include:
- Hand sanitiser remains at entrances and exits
- Face masks remain mandatory for those aged 12+ in churches (even while seated) unless they are medically exempt.
- Track and Trace can be done in the pew via QR code or filling in a small form.
- Track and Trace is only required from one member per household.
- Some churches no longer have a one way system, whilst others do. We have to reduce the likelihood of congestion points, so churches with only one entrance/exit or no side aisles need to keep their one way system at present.
- Larger churches may need to follow a staggered exit pattern – this will be assessed and announced at each Mass.
- Most churches have been divided into social distancing and no social distancing seating, giving you the choice of which you would rather. But even in no social distancing areas there should be a gap between household groups.
- Where social distancing is being followed, it has been reduced to 1m (arms length) and will be up to the congregation to maintain.
- A good level of general cleanliness will be maintained in the churches, especially at touchpoints.
- Booking for Mass remains suspended and will be kept under review.
- All Covid-19 measures are kept under review every 4 weeks and local transmission rates monitored weekly. This means the Covid-19 measures will be quite ‘fluid’ from this point forward and may change at any point.
- Liturgical ministries may resume, with 1m distancing as necessary.
- Communion Ministers who have received both vaccinations may return to function on sick visitations and liturgically as required by the priest at each Mass. If they haven’t been recommissioned, they must make contact with the parish office for arrangements to be made.
Ss. Basil & Gwladys, Rogerstone & Ss. Julius, Aaron and David, Caerleon – will reopen on the weekend of September 11th/12th in time for the Triumph of the Cross on 14th September.
St. Gabriel’s church—on Trinity Sunday, Archbishop George asked the following announcement to be made to the parish:
Following assessments by the Diocesan Architect and external companies, St. Gabriel’s church does not conform to Health and Safety regulations and constitutes a major health hazard. In addition to structural issues, there is a vermin infestation in the roof which is a major health hazard. Timber gutterings have rotted, the gas supply is causing another hazard and a new boiler is also required. The flat roofs are in a state of serious concern. St. Gabriel’s will not be reopening for the foreseeable future. Discussions are currently taking place for the future of Mass provision on the Ringland Estate. I have asked Fr. Michael to keep you informed as the discussions progress.
Message from Fr. Michael:
Over the last 14 months regular monitoring visits have been made to each church in Newport by Diocesan officials to ensure conformity with health and safety laws. This has been in anticipation of the phased re-opening of churches.
As Catholics we love the Church and often feel that our church buildings are a second home for us. We show that in the loving care and dedication we take to clean and maintain them. The fact that St. Gabriel’s cannot re-open because of health and safety concerns is a matter of regret, but essential in the present climate. Over many years volunteers have worked tirelessly to maintain the fabric of the building.
Covid-19 and lockdown have inevitably revealed to us the extent of the infestation at St. Gabriel’s. Within the first few weeks evidence of debris contained in the roof space was coming through on to the floor. It has been confirmed that the age long issue the church has faced has not only been squirrels but also rats.
The Archbishop has asked us to explore the options for Mass provision on the Ringland Estate. We are currently working with St. Gabriel’s Primary School to see what could be feasible in using the hall as a Mass centre. In the meantime we need to take this situation to prayer and ask the Lord to come to our aid. We will, of course, continue to provide Pastoral Provision on the Ringland Estate and will be joined in that work by Sr. Collette Bamber. Sr. Collette is a Sister of St Joseph of Annecy whom Fr Michael has worked with in the past. She will join us in the Autumn having spent the past 13 years working in London. We look forward to welcoming her.