Update on Churches, COVID-19 reopening and risk assessments

Here’s a further update from my post earlier this week as you seek to prepare for post 19th July worship.  The first crucial piece of information is that the Government have now published updated guidance for churches.  You can read it here.

The key things to  note are that

  1. As expected, churches are encouraged to consider whether or not they might be categorised as crowded places and therefore look at encouraging face masking.
  2. Track and Trace is not compulsory but a form of voluntary participation is encouraged.
  3.  Those who are clinically vulnerable can follow the same guidance as others but should consider extra precautions. Churches will wish to provide for this.
  4. The main focus seems to be on looking at how you improve ventilation in your buildings.

The overall tone is not as heavy as I was expecting giving the pressure we’ve seen coming on night clubs and public transport. This suggests to me that the Government do not see places of worship as such a high risk.  On that basis, I’m updating my risk assessment as I think it will feed into the implications for insurance and health and safety compliance.

In terms of data concerning the spread and impact of the virus.  First of all, we’ve seen an increase in the rate of growth again this week after it began to slow last week. Here are the Thursday to Thursday % growth rates and the Friday to Friday % growth rates.

The Weekly Growth figures are at 40.6% as of Saturday 17/07.  This suggests that we are probably seeing the impact of England reaching the semi finals of the European Championship and we can expect the affect of the finals to feed in to next weeks figures.  It also means that the current doubling time is about 14 days. In other words, if growth remained constant (which it probably won’t) then we are looking at about 77,000 cases next Saturday and 108,000 cases the Saturday after.

As I said above, we probably won’t see that % growth continue at the same rate. I expect there will be some downward pressure on the numbers over the next week (feeding into reported numbers by Thursday/Friday). The Euros have ended and we are seeing good weather encouraging people to go outdoors. Additionally schools are beginning to break up in England. The unknown is the impact of the 19th July changes on figures. We probably won;t start to see that affecting the reported numbers for at least another week. Additionally, expect nightclubs and other hospitality venues to be busier at weekends than early in the week meaning that we probably need to wait until the 2nd August before we can say if there has been any effect. Some people are predicting (hoping) that we have already seen the big changes in behaviour affecting COVID transmission and so the impact of the 19th July will not be as large as many fear. Time will tell!

Hospitalisations continue to increase but note the good news that the % of admissions to positive test results continues to fall which is encouraging. However, a small % of admissions could lead to significantly high numbers if cases continue to rise. For example, we can project forward 10 days and expect to see 1,3k -1.4k daily hospital admissions by 10 days time. Based on the projections above, we are looking at around 2k daily admissions by the first week in August and about 2.7k by the 10th August. Of course, if we start to see the increase in cases slow down, plateau and begin to drop over the next 2 -3 weeks then that will lead to a lower number of admissions.

Here’s my current risk assessment.  Remember that you need to look at local data for your context to give you a better picture for your own assessment.

 IDRisk DescriptionProbability
1Risk of causing COVID infection spreadModerate
2Risk of invalidating insuranceModerate to High
3Risk of breaching H&S LawModerate
4Risk of increased congregation anxietyHigh
5Risk of creating a bad witness to the communityHigh
%d bloggers like this: