The Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs division has published advice to parishes on practical steps to reduce the risk of infection from Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The guidance, written by Dr Brendan McCarthy, the Church of England’s Adviser on health issues, drawing on the latest Government advice, is available on a dedicated web page which will be updated as necessary.
It recommends incorporating simple precautions into worship services, particularly during the celebration of the Eucharist.
The situation will be kept under close review and updated advice will be made available if necessary.
The Bishop of Carlisle, James Newcome, the Church of England’s lead bishop on health issues, said: “We pray for all those affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19) here and around the world, particularly in China, and for all those caring for them.
“The virus not been declared a pandemic and at present the risk in this country is assesses as ‘moderate’. However, there are, of course some practical measures churches can take.
“Much of that is simply maintaining good hygiene including, for example, priests and servers washing their hands and using alcohol-based hand-sanitiser before Holy Communion.
“Although there is not currently Government advice suggesting churches should suspend the use of the Common Cup, parishioners with coughs and sneezes should certainly be encouraged to receive Communion in one kind only and to refrain from handshaking during The Peace.
“We also advise against the practice of ‘intinction’ – when the consecrated bread is dipped into the wine - as this could represents an infection transmission route.”