Operating Safely

This page has been created to inform you about the reopening of churches for private prayer and the resumption of public worship and the celebration of Mass. Churches across our diocese are gradually beginning to reopen for the celebration of Mass, though there are limits on capacity in line with social distancing guidelines and churches must complete a thorough risk assessment before being able to open.

We are making every effort to ensure our churches can continue to open safely, but we also need to be mindful that our churches will look and feel different during this period. These changes are essential to ensure the safety of all our people. You can watch a video which illustrates some of these changes below. Additionally, from 8 August wearing a face covering when visiting a church is mandatory.

Churches around the diocese are continuing to livestream Holy Mass which all are invited to join.  The list of times and where to access Mass can be found here.

Churches Open for Private Prayer and Mass

An increasing number of churches in our diocese are beginning to reopen for private prayer and the celebration of public Mass.

To find out if your parish is open and their times for Mass, please contact the parish office directly.

You can find a list of all parish contact details by clicking here.

Safety when attending Mass

Before they can open, parishes must undertake a thorough Risk Assessment, following guidance from guidelines issued by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, agreed with the government.

There are currently restrictions on capacity and social distancing measures must be observed. It is also compulsory to wear a face mask when attending church, unless you are medically exempt or aged under 11.

Steward Training Resources

If you are a steward looking for training resources you will find these here:

You can download the presentation by clicking here.

You can watch the training video by clicking here. 

More information is the Commonly Asked Question Session below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I visit a church/attend Mass?

It remains a person’s own choice whether they to come to church for Mass. If you are in the vulnerable category you should consider whether this is safe for you to do.

The obligation to attend Mass on Sunday and Holy Days remains suspended at this time.

Bishop John has asked us to consider three things:

1. When more churches begin to open for the public celebration of Mass, maybe we might think about attending a weekday Mass to help ease Sunday capacity.

2. That any elderly person, anyone with any frailty or underlying medical condition, shouldn’t consider trying to attend Mass at this time

3. That if your own parish church is not opening for the public celebration of Mass you wait until it does so without looking for other churches which will have their own restricted capacity for their parishioners.

If you or a member of your household are showing symptoms of Covid- 19 you should not come to a church. If you display symptoms you may be advised not to enter.

The obligation to attend Mass on Sunday and Holy Days remains suspended at this time.

Can I visit with my family?

You can visit with your family as long as you are part of the same household. People who are part of the same household can sit together but those not from the same household should maintain social distancing while in church.

We advise that those under 16 years old do not enter the church unaccompanied.

Are all churches open?

Not all of our churches are open at this time. We have opened several named churches, spread around the Diocese initially. Other churches will follow as quickly as it can be assured that they are able to fulfil the conditions for cleanliness, and social distancing.

For some churches it may not be possible for them to open at all, but we will ensure that churches that can open are available across the diocese.

I'm a steward. How can I continue to ensure a culture of safeguarding in my parish?

A presentation has been produced by the Safeguarding office for those volunteering in their parishes.  The guidance in this presentation will help us all to continue to be mindful and create a culture of vigilance during Covid-19 and the phased reopening of some of our churches for private prayer.

You can download the presentation by clicking here.

You can watch the training video by clicking here. 

If you have any more questions please discuss with your parish safeguarding representative or contact the Safeguarding team on 0161 817 2206 and leave a clear message with your name and phone number. A member of the team will then return your call.

What are you doing to make the churches safe?

The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales have worked with Public Health England and the Government to provide clear guidelines to open our churches safely, which minimises the risk of virus transmission.

If visiting a church you will find:

  • From 8 August, wearing a face covering when attending a church is mandatory.
  • Stewards will be available to ensure that hand sanitisation occurs at entry and exit points, social distancing is maintained by people in the church and if a pre-determined capacity is reached, they will be unable to allow others to enter the building, until someone else exits the church.
  • Alcohol hand gel will be provided at the doors, with notices asking people to sanitise their hands as they enter and leave the church.
  • Toilet facilities in churches will remain closed to prevent any risk of transmission of infection.
  • Hymn books, missals, devotional materials etc which may be re-used will be removed from the church.
  • There will be no holy water in church stoups.
  • Physical veneration of relics or objects such as statues, crucifixes and shrines is not permitted.
What about lighting candles?

We understand that for many the lighting of candles/votive lights can be an aid to prayer. It will be up to individual churches to decide whether this can be offered.

If you wish a candle/votive light to be lit, please observe all the safety notices in place.