Tel: 01227 763373


Covid19 Risk Assessment

Risk Assessment for Opening Church Buildings to the Public


Version Control

Issue Date

Version Number

Issued by

22nd May 2020


The House of Bishops COVID-19 Recovery Group

8th June 2020


The House of Bishops COVID-19 Recovery Group

12th June 2020


The House of Bishops COVID-19 Recovery Group

1st July 2020


The House of Bishops COVID-19 Recovery Group



Churches and cathedrals have been legally permitted to open for purposes of individual private prayer from 13th June. House of Bishops guidance provided for churches to open for funerals from 15th June. Public worship, with measures in place for social distancing, are allowed from 4th July. Other activities, except for a few still prohibited by law, may also take place in churches, subject to the government guidance in place for the relevant sector.


The government guidance for the safe use of places of worship during the pandemic requires a COVID-19 risk assessment to be carried out for every building and site open to the public. This document provides a template risk assessment, with links to the relevant advice notes. It relates to opening up church and cathedral buildings to clergy and members of the public entering for any permitted purposes. As well as offering guidance on best-practice, it is also intended to help parishes make a decision on whether to open for any or all of these purposes or not, based on their local circumstances, resources and context. You should read the advice on re-opening buildings and the guidance on public worship before completing this assessment. Both are available on the Church of England Coronavirus pages.


Future versions of this document will be produced when there is any substantive change to the guidance on the safe use of places of worship.


A separate risk assessment relating to contractors and construction workers is available on the Church of England Coronavirus pages.





Carrying out a risk assessment


  1. Agree what activities you are planning for:
    • Private prayer (clergy only)
    • Livestreaming services (clergy only)
    • Private prayer (general public)
    • Public worship
    • Rites of passage services
    • Opening for visitors and tourists


  1. Consider the hazards:
    • Transmission of COVID-19
    • Hazards arising from the temporary closure of the church
    • Hazards arising from now using the church in a different way


Read the guidance and think about how it relates specifically to your church. What constraints are there? Consider how people will arrive at the church, including if they will need to wait or queue outside; how people will enter and leave the church; circulation inside: from the entrance to the worship space and out again; circulation within the worship space; also access to other areas including the toilet(s).


  1. Consider who might be harmed and how? Read the guidance and think about how the activities you are planning will affect different groups of people. The risks are not different for larger churches so long as they are properly managed, but having more people coming through your building makes the possible impact – for example of someone with COVID-19 coming into contact with others – higher than in smaller venues with fewer people. Consider your particular circumstances and adapt the checklist below as appropriate.


  1. Using the risk assessment checklist below as a template:
    • add in mitigations for any risks that are particular to your circumstances that may not be on the list;
    • record what you need to do for each activity to go ahead safely;
    • consider any equipment you need and any temporary changes you might need to make to the church;
    • check back against your list of activities to confirm which ones can go ahead and when.




Risk assessment



St Cosmus and St Damian in the Blean


Assessor’s name:

Blean Church PCC



Date completed:

July 2 2020 (Updated after PCC assessment, July 9 2020)



July 27, 2020

August 24, 2020







  • Private prayer (clergy only)                                    From July 5
  • Livestreaming services (clergy only)                     From July 5                 
  • Private prayer (general public)                              From July 5 (once a week initially)
  • Public worship                                                          From July 5 (once a week initially)
  • Rites of passage services                                        From July 5
  • Opening for visitors and tourists                          Not yet. To be reviewed 27 July.






Area of Focus

Controls required

Additional information

Action by whom?

Completed – date and name

Access to church buildings for clergy for purposes of private prayer and/or livestreaming


General advice on accessing church buildings can be found here.

One point of entry to the church building clearly identified and separate from public entry if possible

Entry by north door. Exit by south door for worshippers.

All using building.


A suitable lone working policy has been consulted if relevant.

An example can be found here.

SL when using building


Buildings have been aired before use.



JM July 2

Check for animal waste and general cleanliness.



JM July 2

Ensure water systems are flushed through before use.


See Government Guidance for organisations on supplying safe water supplies

No water in church; church room system flushed through for use of cleaners.


JM July 2

Switch on and check electrical and heating systems if needed. Commission system checks as necessary.

Check lights and sound system are working. Sound system prepared Saturday evening and quarantined until Wednesday each week.

Heating not currently required.


Lights checked July 2 JM

Organ checked July 3 TB

Holy water stoups and the font are empty.



July 3

Ensure safe use of equipment needed for livestreaming: avoid exceeding safe load on sockets, cables/tripod causing trip hazard

To be reviewed.



Deciding whether to open to the public

Discuss with nearby venues and businesses to ensure that the timing and practical arrangements for using the church are compatible.

N/A church in isolated location



Update your website, A Church Near You, and any relevant social media.



Risk assessment added to website before July 12 SL

Consider if a booking system is needed, whether for general access or for specific events/services

Not required as expectation is that numbers will not be high enough to make this necessary.

JM/TB to monitor and keep under review.


If opening to tourists consider applying for the Visit Britain ‘Good to Go’ standard mark

Apply here.

N/A at least until July 27 review.



Preparation of the Church for access by members of the public for any permitted purposes, including worship and tourism

Confirm that all steps (above) for access by clergy have been carried out before anyone else accesses the building.

See above



Review CofE guide on cleaning church buildings. Complete the ‘cleaning’ section of this risk assessment (below).

Advice on cleaning church buildings can be found here.

This has been reviewed. Deep clean of church to be carried out before opening.


JM July 4

Choose one point of entry into the church to manage flow of people and indicate this with notices, keeping emergency exits available at all times. Where possible use a different exit.

Entry by north door. Exit by south door for worshippers.


Notices to be prepared

July 11: JM

Make any temporary arrangements for people to wait or queue outside the building (taking into account any consequential risks arising from people gathering outside).

Queueing positions to be marked out outside the building.


JM July 7

Where possible, doors and windows should be opened temporarily to improve ventilation.

Doors will be opened to ventilate the building initially and during worship.


JM initial ventilation July 2

Remove Bibles/literature/hymn books/leaflets

To be removed.


JM July 3

Cordon off or remove from public access any devotional objects or items (if they are liable to be touched or closely breathed on)

Public will not be able to access any devotional objects, which will only be on display during worship.



Consider if pew cushions/kneelers need to be removed as per government guidance

Pew cushions to be cleaned.


JM July 3

Remove or isolate children’s resources and play areas

To be removed.


JM July 3

Walk through the church to plan for physical distancing in seats, aisles, at the altar rail, including safe flow of visitors. Remember 2m in all directions from each person (or 1m with risk mitigation if absolutely necessary).        

2m rule to be observed rather than 1m with mitigation. Seating positions to be marked.



July 11: JM

Clearly mark out seating areas including exclusion zones to maintain distancing.

Seating positions will be marked. Maximum capacity to be determined.


Plan completed July 3 JM

Clearly mark out flow of movement for people entering and leaving the building to maintain physical distancing requirements.



Plan completed July 3 JM

Limit access to places were the public does not need go, maybe with a temporary cordon in needed.

To be reviewed.


Cordon not required JM July 3

Determine placement of hand sanitisers available for visitors to use.

Register with Parish Buying for procurement options.

Sanitizers to be placed at entrance and exit.


Sanitizers bought and positions agreed July 9

Determine if temporary changes are needed to the building to facilitate social distancing

Consult advice on gaining temporary permissions.




Put up notices to remind visitors about important safe practices e.g. no physical contact, practice hand washing etc.



July 11:


Ensure high-risk surfaces and touch points have been wiped with appropriate sanitiser spray or disposable wipes

Advice on cleaning church buildings can be found here.

To be carried out before and after each service: included in service protocol document.


JM/TB with effect from July 12

Check that handwashing facilities have adequate soap provision and paper towels, and a bin for the paper towels.

Register with Parish Buying for procurement options.


N/A no such facilities in operation.


Where there are toilet facilities, ensure an adequate supply of soap and disposable hand towels, and a bin for towels, are available.

Register with Parish Buying for procurement options.


N/A toilet to remain closed until July 31 review.


Ensure all waste receptacles have disposable liners (e.g. polythene bin bags) to reduce the risk to those responsible for removing them.

Vestry only. All attending church to remove all waste.

Instruction in parish guidance.


July 10 bulletin JM

If possible, provide safe means for worshippers and visitors to record their name and contact details; retain each day’s record for 21 days

Worship and private prayer welcomers to supervise.

Welcomer will write down the names of all those attending at each service. Those who are not ‘regulars’ will have to be asked for their names and contact information. This information will be stored in a file in the vestry lock down cupboard.


JB with effect from July 12;

All welcomers subsequently will have instructions

Give due notice of the resumption of use of the building to neighbours, congregation and wider community, ensuring that visitors and worshippers will know what to expect when they come.

Electronic bulletin and notice boards.


Noticeboards completed July 8. Bulletin July 10.

Arrangements for Persons over 70

Since a large percentage of regular worshippers are over 70, no special arrangements for separate services will be made so long as 2m social distancing can be maintained and the numbers attending worship and private prayer remain well within the capacity of the building.

To be kept under review and discussed July 27.



Services General


Protocol document produced as a checklist to be used for preparation of church for services and closing down by those responsible.

Vestments to be aired/cleaned as required.

Face coverings required.

Staggered entry times are not considered necessary, but this will be kept under review.

Giving to be via single collection plate placed near entrance. Only one person to handle, following guidelines. Regular cleaning and hygiene will be maintained, and gloves worn to handle cash offerings. Offerings to be placed in safe for one week before counting/banking.

Vestry to be marked as ‘no entry’ and used only and individually by SL/TB/JM.

Microphones: service leader/celebrant to use chest mic. Any other microphones needed will be sanitised and used by one person each.

Bell rung by celebrant in vestry.

Music may be provided on the organ prior to a service and/or for periods of reflection.

Congregation to be dismissed so that social distancing is maintained.

























With effect from July 12.




Updated July


When open the church will be permanently staffed by welcomers.


They will request the attendees to:  sanitize their hands;  sit where they are directed; not to get up and chat to their friends before the service; to take the weekly reading sheet away with them but to leave any other book or leaflet where they found it on entry; exit the building when dismissed by the required route (through the south door).



JM/SL/TB and others

With effect from July 12.

Services Specific

Morning/Evening Prayer

Quarantined service leaflets to be used plus weekly readings sheet when required. Service leaflets to be left in pews/seats. Sheets placed on seats by person wearing gloves in advance, and to be removed by congregation.

Services July 12, 19, 26 to be morning worship in the format of the usual parish ‘second Sunday special’.


With effect  from July 12.



Quarantined service leaflets to be used plus weekly readings sheet. Service leaflets to be left in pews/seats. Sheets placed on seats by person wearing gloves in advance, and to be removed by congregation.

Celebrant only to prepare, use and wash up materials. Communion to be administered as per current government Food and Drink guidance.

Services from August include some eucharists.


With effect from August



Risk assessment addenda to be prepared when required


Wedding protocols completed Aug 1

Private Prayer

Arrangements in the building as for services.

Those attending to be supervised by a welcomer.

Instructions to be circulated electronically and on notices.





Instructions in bulletin July 10.


None to be provided at least until July 27 review.




Car parking

Worshippers to be advised of arrangements in advance, and required to maintain social distancing on leaving and entering cars.

Notification in bulletin and on notices.


Car parking notice and bulletin July 10/11 JM.

Cleaning the church before and after general use (no known exposure to anyone with Coronavirus symptoms)


Advice on cleaning church buildings can be found here.

If the church building has been closed for 72 hours between periods of being open, then there is no need for extra cleaning to remove the virus from surfaces.

Church to be open on Sunday a.m. and Wednesday p.m. only initially with 72-hour gap

between openings. Cleaning to be carried out before and after all openings.

JM initially; rota to be re-established in due course.


If 72-hour closure is not possible then check all cleaners are not in a vulnerable group or self-isolating.

N/A see above.



Set up a cleaning rota to cover your opening arrangements.

JM initially, others TBC in due course


JM from July 1. Rota TBC

All cleaners provided with gloves (ideally disposable).

Register with Parish Buying for procurement options.


Available July 9 JM

Suitable cleaning materials provided, depending on materials and if historic surfaces are to be cleaned.

Register with Parish Buying for procurement options.

To include bleach spray and paper towels.


In place July 9 TB

Confirm person responsible for removing potentially contaminated waste (e.g. hand towels) from the site.



JM with effect from July 12.

Confirm the frequency for removing potentially contaminated waste (e.g. hand towels) from the site – suggested daily removal.

As required after each opening: vestry bin only at present.

JM and welcomers.

JM with effect from July 12.

Cleaning the church after known exposure to someone with Coronavirus symptoms

If possible close the church building for 72 hours with no access permitted.

This will be standard practice initially until July 27.

JM/TB/SL as required.


If 72-hour closure is not possible then follow Public Health England guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare settings.

Public Health England guidance available here.

N/A see above.



If the building has been quarantined for 72 hours, then carry out cleaning as per the normal advice on cleaning.

Advice on cleaning church buildings can be found here.

This has been reviewed: see above.



Publication of risk assessment

Current risk assessment to be included on parish website.

To be updated after any changes.


Updated version posted by  SL

Community behaviour agreement

The risk assessment will be approved by the PCC, and instructions based on it issued to those attending worship and private prayer.

Risk assessment sent to PCC for approval July 5


PCC approval confirmed July 7


















Powered by Church Edit