Several congregations reopened yesterday and I’ve received feedback from some of you. Thank you for sending it. Some mentioned singing. Some apologized for their service going too long (over 45 minutes) and some mentioned that they stayed too long after church ended because they were having such a good time.
I thought I might restate the “rules” so none of you feel any sense of guilt or judgment.
The rules really are that those who have been fully vaccinated have no requirement for masks and distancing. Those who have not should wear masks and maintain social distancing. All should exercise a great deal of caution in their actions and be sure to protect those who are most vulnerable. Here are the suggestions for activities in order to exercise caution.
- Singing is discouraged but not prohibited. Singing without masks projects aerosols into the air for great distances which can linger for an hour or more. Suggestions to minimize the risks are to not sing, sing with masks, open windows for cross ventilation, increase usage and effectiveness of central air or furnace fans, meet outside or sing fewer hymns. Some congregations have chosen to not sing, some are using masks, some are singing with no restrictions of any kind.
- Wearing of masks for those fully vaccinated is more of a personal choice. Some do it to show solidarity with those who are required to be masked. Some choose to do so for personal reasons. While we know the vaccines are very effective, we don’t know when or if a new variant might arise which is not susceptible to the current vaccines and we don’t know for sure if a currently vaccinated person might be a carrier or even contract the virus even though vaccinated. (We have examples of both.) We do know that there has been an increase in Covid among those under 12 in recent weeks.
- Meeting for no longer than 45 minutes is also a suggestion. It reduces the amount of time people share the same air, reduces the need to use bathrooms – which are typically smaller and less ventilated- and reduces the amount of time people are in closer proximity. Suggestions are to leave immediately after the service and visit outside; visit using some sort of distancing, masking, etc.
- Communion also presents issues with distancing. One reason we suggest not serving the emblems to one another is it has the possibility of transfers from one person to another in the handling of the trays, emblems, etc. Even using the disposable emblems presents a problem of how to dispose without touching. Some are asking people to bring their own emblems; some set them out in a way that people may pick up their own without touching anyone else’s emblems, some are using pre-packaged emblems. Again, there is no set rule other than using extreme caution.
New cases of Covid overall in Ohio have decreased and as of June 5 we were below the goal of 50 per 100K in the state. Please keep an eye on your own counties to be aware of any local issues. As always, feel free to get in touch with questions.