Following Boris Johnson’s announcement of the introduction of Plan B measures are being introduced, the bishops of England and Wales highlighted the message that people should be vaccinated and receive the booster jab.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced new coronavirus restrictions in response to the spread of the Omicron variant. England’s new measures include the wider wearing of face masks, a return to working from home, and the mandatory use of Covid passes for access to large venues.
In an updated message to Catholics ‘with respect to the current situation with the omicron variant’, the bishops told the Universe Catholic Weekly that ‘a positive message’ should be delivered ‘whenever possible’ to encourage Catholics ‘to get vaccinated and have the booster jab when able.’
People should also ‘wrap up well in church’, since priority should be given to ‘good ventilation and air’ throughout church buildings, they added.
The emphasis on vaccination may sit uneasily with some Catholics who have opted not to receive the vaccine because of the use of foetal cell lines in the development of COVID vaccines.
In other measures, the bishops said that it is ‘important’ to provide hand sanitiser to those attending church and gave ‘a strong recommendation’ that people should wear a face covering during acts of worship. Reminders were also given that those displaying covid symptoms should stay at home and that people involved in pastoral ministry to housebound, sick and elderly people ‘should take regular lateral flow tests.’
There was also good news for those cleaning churches, as the bishops noted that ‘strict regimes’ of cleaning previously undertaken were not necessary.
“There is now strong evidence to support that the main mode of transmission is through breath and nasal aerosols, and that the risk from surface and touch transmission is low,” they said. “As such, the strict regimes of church cleaning that were recommended at the beginning of the opening of churches for public worship are no longer necessary. General church cleaning is sufficient.”
The bishops believe that these measures will enable worship in churches to continue uninterrupted.
“If these guidance points are supported, then the churches will continue to be safe places for people to gather for acts of public worship, including over the Christmas period,” they said.
Picture: File photo dated 31/07/21 of a person receiving a Covid-19 jab. PA Images Picture by: Kirsty O’Connor