COVID and Omicron responding to the current situation

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In today’s post I want to update on risk assessment and risk management. I’m aware that a lot of churches will have big decisions to make this weekend about how to respond to the current new wave of cases driven by the Omicron variant.

My advice as things stand would be as follows.

  1. Continue to meet for normal in person services whilst observing the face mask requirements. Allow additional spacing and make provision for those who are most vulnerable or anxious by providing areas with clear social distancing.
  2. Reduce the risk of people congregating in crowded areas. My inclination would be to ensure that if you are serving refreshments that these are brought to those seated.
  3. I would step up the provision of online content if you’ve scaled this back.
  4. Personally I would be revisiting plans for major in person events such as carols by candlelight services and nativity events if you have booked them in for this week. If you are able to run such events outdoors then consider that. Also perhaps consider offering an online carol service.
  5. Encourage people to lateral flow test prior to attending and afterwards. Enable people to participate in the NHS contact tracing process
  6. Help people to avoid higher risk options for transport to church events (i.e. public transport).
  7. Have plan B ready for Christmas Day and church services into January should further restrictions be introduced. I believe there remains a significant risk of this.

Partly this is about being alert to the objective risk. There is clearly an increased risk of transmission at the moment and we still remain uncertain as to the extent of impact this will have on hospital admissions, serious illness and death.

However, it’s also about being alert to people’s mood. I would expect people to be additionally cautious due to the level of uncertainty at the moment and also people will be making decisions about what to prioritise in order to minimise the risk of family Christmas gatherings being disrupted by cases of COVID in the run up. Watch out for a further post on this coming out tomorrow.

Here’s my updated risk assessment.

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