Covid Guidance in England from 19 July

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The CCCBR posted the following statement on 16th July:

CCCBR Guidance for England from 19th July

  • Expected if ringing with unvaccinated ringers, e.g. youth groups, when teaching face to face, and if your band contains people with impaired immunity
  • Facemasks are no longer required to be worn in Places of Worship by law, but they do offer protection to others (and you).
  • Face to face / close contact teaching, for longer periods of time in the context of exponentially increasing cases, gives a very strong case for facemasks.
  • FFP3 masks offer the best protection both for the wearer and in preventing transmission, but they need to be fitted properly.
  • Ringing rooms should be well ventilated with external airflow
  • It is well established that good ventilation decreases the risk of virus transmission
  • Ideally you should feel a draught. Good ventilation makes longer periods of ringing safer.
Number of ringers
  • No legal limit but avoid crowded badly-ventilated ringing chambers
  • Legal restrictions have been removed but government is still urging caution in minimising the number, proximity and duration of social contacts
  • Ringers are more likely to feel comfortable where ringing rooms are not too crowded and are well ventilated.
Social distancing
  • No longer legally required
  • Legal restrictions have been removed
Duration of ringing sessions
  • Ring for as long as the band is comfortable ringing for
  • Personal judgement is the basis for deciding how long to spend with others in an enclosed space
  • Ringers are likely to feel more comfortable in well ventilated spaces
Hand sanitiser
  • Still encouraged as it adds protection
  • Scientific evidence that transmission by touch is not the main cause of transmission (aerosol is a greater cause) but the risk has not gone away. Sanitiser is an additional precaution.
  • Remember that sanitiser needs to dry to be effective
Lateral Flow Tests
  • Take them if you are going to mix with unvaccinated ringers
  • UK Government recommends LFTs in order to protect unvaccinated people from those who may be asymptomatic.
  • Definitely if you are running youth practices – parents will expect it. Not necessary for groups of fully vaccinated adults (i.e. two vaccinations).
Message from Simon Linford, President CCCBR

Ringing guidance for England for the period from 19 July onwards has been agreed with the House of Bishops Recovery Group today and can be downloaded from here. The lifting of any restrictions on how long we ring for and with how many other ringers is welcomed, although we need to be mindful that at a time of greatly increasing infection rates, and big regional variations, many ringers will still be cautious in terms of how much ringing they do. Some towers are actually discussing reducing the amount of ringing they do because of the rise in infection levels, not increasing it.

The Church of England’s own guidance has not been published yet, but should be later today. It includes a paragraph referring to the Central Council’s guidance.

Although the wearing of facemasks is no longer mandated in places of worship, and will not appear in the Church of England guidance, we have included a number of situations where due to the particular nature of ringing we would expect masks to be worn, including close face to face teaching, and ringing with unvaccinated children. Some clergy may retain a policy of facemasks in their church or cathedral, and if they do then their wishes take precedence.

The Government now wants us to take responsibility for our own actions. If you don’t think you should ring for as long as you are allowed to – don’t. If you want to wear a facemask when ringing – wear one. If a member of your band wants you all to wear facemasks to protect them – discuss it as a band and come to an agreement. Bellringing is a group activity and we are responsible for each other not just ourselves. The virus has not gone away by any means – we are learning to live with it.

This seems like an ideal time to thank the rest of the Covid guidance team – Phil Barnes, Mark Regan and David Pouncey – who have helped navigate this difficult process over the last 16 months, and the large number of ringers who have given their quiet support behind the scenes. As a team we would like to thank Mark Betson and Brendan McCarthy, the members of the House of Bishops Recovery Group, who have had an extraordinary burden put on them.

Simon Linford
President CCCBR