We have been given the following advice on how to reduce infection from the Coronavirus. You will see that in addition to what we do already (the priest hand sanitising) it suggests that we do not shake hands at the Peace and that if we have any symptoms of a cold we receive Holy Communion in ‘one kind’ only – this means only receiving the bread and not the wine.
Most importantly the guidance suggests that we should no longer ‘intinct’ which means putting the wafer into the wine as this potentially spreads any infection on the hands of the worshipper to others. I will of course announce this at the beginning of every service.
The Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs division has published the following advice to parishes on practical steps to reduce the risk of infection from Coronavirus (COVID-19). Updated 6th March 2020
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. https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-parishe
Churches should already be following best-hygiene practices that include advising parishioners with coughs and sneezes to refrain from handshaking during The Peace and to receive Communion in one kind only. To avoid offending people by refusing to shake their hands because of your own cough and sneezing, in Itchen Valley Parish we will suspend the practice of shaking hands at the Peace.
In the event of increased community transmission of coronavirus, we have been instructed that as a priest it is up to me to decide whether it is necessary to withdraw the Common Cup. If I do so decide we will:
- Suspend the administration of the chalice and offer Communion in one kind only i.e. the consecrated bread/wafer/host, with the priest alone taking the wine.
- Consider suspending handshaking or other direct physical contact during the sharing of the peace.We are doing this anyway
- Consider suspending direct physical contact as part of a blessing or ‘laying on of hands’.
Where the priest has not suspended the administration of the chalice, communicants may nevertheless decide to receive in one kind only at their own discretion.
It is also best practice for churches to have hand-sanitisers available for parishioners to use.
In addition, priests presiding at the Eucharist, communion administrators and servers should wash their hands, preferably with an alcohol-based (minimum 60%) hand-sanitiser. This we already do.
Intinction is not recommended (even by celebrants or communion-administrators) as this represents an infection transmission route as well as a risk to those with certain allergies.
Best hygiene practice should continue to be observed in all pastoral contacts.