Opening Guidelines

Following Government guidelines, the Shul re-opened on 4th July for all services. As I am sure you are aware, things are not completely back to normal yet. We are putting in place a lot of rules to make sure that the Shul is as safe as possible for us all. We ask that you work with us to make this transition as smooth as possible.

Only come to Shul if you have been allocated a specific seat number.

This is to enable us to comply with track and trace rules for communal gatherings. We are really sorry but if you have not booked a seat then you will not be allowed in.

Services during the week do not require booking at this time. Only Shabbos morning and Friday evening services require booking. Contact the office if you would like to book a weekly seat.

We are about to enter a prolonged period of uncertainty during which we will introduce, and then revise policy and guidance. We will endeavour to communicate as clearly to you as possible to enable you to comply. We must remain a warm, welcoming and understanding Shul. It is also important that we continue to convey the message that no-one of any age who is concerned about their health should feel obligated to attend a service or make up a minyan.

The government have allowed Places of Worship to open on 4th July 2020. Please be aware that the government may re-impose the restrictions that enable us to open. Should this happen we will communicate this as clearly as possible to you.

Attendance

There should be a particular focus on protecting people who are clinically vulnerable and more likely to develop severe illness. Actions should include:

  • Religious leaders, lay people, family, volunteers, staff and members of the public, including children, staying at home and self-isolating if they have a new, continuous cough or a high temperature or loss of or change to sense of smell or taste. This is to minimise risk of spread of COVID-19 to friends, the wider community, and particularly the vulnerable.
  • Individuals who are shielding should continue to follow the government’s advice on shielding.
  • If anyone becomes unwell with symptoms of COVID-19 in a place of worship they should go home immediately and be advised to follow the stay at home guidance, which covers NHS Test and Trace. If they need clinical advice, they should go online to NHS 111 (or call 111 if they don’t have internet access). In an emergency, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. They should not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital.

Other people who may have been in contact with the person who has become unwell should wash their hands thoroughly after the interaction, but they do not need to take any other specific action unless they develop symptoms themselves or are advised to do so by NHS Test and Trace. If they do develop symptoms they should follow the stay at home guidance.

  1. Older members (and certainly those over 70) should use their judgment to decide whether to attend services.
  2. Those who are clinically vulnerable should take medical advice as to whether to attend.
  3. No person should be or feel pressurised to attend a service in order to make up a minyan.
  4. At the present time, no child under the age of 12 should attend services unless you can guarantee that they will remain seated throughout the entire service.
  5. For Shabbos Services you must only come to Shul if you have been allocated a specific seat number. This is to enable us to comply with the Governments track and trace requirement.
  6. Weekday services will be in the hall. We are not using a booking system for weekday services.

Capacity, Seating, Layout and Access

  1. You must stay at least 2 meters (3 steps) apart from each other in all directions at all times.
    1. Due to the layout of our Shul. the 1 meter rule has not been deemed safe for use.
  2. We have marked the floor at 2 meter intervals to help social distancing when entering and exiting the Shul.
  3. Due to the space restrictions between seats, men will be seated in the whole of the Shul and the front of the hall.
    1. The maximum capacity for men is approximately 35 (see seating plan at the end of this document)
    2. You will probably not be able to sit in your usual seat. We all have to be flexible due to social distancing rules.
  4. Women will be seated in the back of the hall. The area will be cordoned off using the mechitza curtains.
  5. We have space for 10 women in the hall.
  6. Entrance to the Shul will be split.
    1. If you have a seat in the men’s section then you will enter via the front door. The corridor will be blocked immediately on entering.
    2. If you have a seat in the women’s section then you will enter via the side door.
    3. If you have a seat in the hall then you will enter via the side door and turn immediately into the hall.
  7. You must not enter the Shul or the Hall until you have a seat allocated to you.
  8. Weekday services will be held in the hall. Once the capacity has been reached we will not be able to let anyone else into the building. If you turn up late, please be understanding.
  9. Coats must not be hung in the cloakroom and should be taken into the Shul and placed on or directly next to your seat.
  10. You must remain seated throughout the service.
  11. Do not get up and wonder around.
  12. After each service you must wipe down your seat and book stand with the provided disinfectant wipes.
  13. Exiting the Shul after the service will be split.
    1. Those in the men’s section will exit via the front door.
    2. Those in the women’s section and the hall will exit via the side door.
    3. You must exit the building as soon as the service has been completed.
    4. Make sure to keep 2 meters away when exiting the building
  14. To allow everyone to leave the building safely, there must be no congregating in the corridor or any other area inside or outside of the Shul.
  15. People from the same household can enter and exit together. We have a number of double seats available which are available on request.
  16. The front door is to remain un-locked and on the latch.
  17. Security will be arranged at the door for Shabbos services. For other services we ask for volunteers to man the door.

Cleaning, handwashing and infection control

  1. Hand sanitiser will be available on entering the Shul. Everybody should wash their hands on arrival.
  2. All members must wear face coverings at all times. Please can you provide your own face coverings where possible. We will have a small number of masks in the Shul if needed. It is important to use them properly:
    1. Thoroughly wash hands before putting them on and taking them off.
    2. Masks must cover your mouth and nose and fit well around the face. You can make face coverings at home (see government guidelines on how to do this).
    3. Face coverings should not be used by young children or those who may find it difficult to manage them correctly. For example, primary age children unassisted, or those with respiratory conditions.
  3. The room will be well ventilated by opening all windows and doors. It is important that the windows are not closed.
  4. Those who attend services cannot kiss the Sefer Torah, mezuzot or tallitot, nor can there be any handshaking or kissing.
  5. Community Tallitot will not be available for use.
  6. The Chazon and Baalei Koreh must wear face coverings. They will stand as far away from the kehilla as possible and face forwards (i.e. not towards those attending). They will daven or leyn from the front rather than from the bimah.
  7. Those who handle the Sefer Torah or any other ritual item other than books (e.g. the yad) should wear a new pair of disposable gloves for the period that they are doing so. The Shul will provide these but you are welcome to use your own. (There is no requirement for other attendees to wear gloves.)
  8. You should bring your own siddurim and chumashim from home. If this is not possible, you should select a particular set of books and keep them somewhere safe at the Shul for your own use.
  9. Singing and chanting is only allowed buy the service leader. This will be kept to a minimum.
  10. Singing and chanting is not allowed by any member of the congregation.
  11. The services will be run with minimum delay.
    1. Shabbat and Sunday Shacharit will begin from ‘Shochen Ad’
    2. Other parts of the service may be cut if deemed not necessary by the Rabbi.
    3. Those parts of the service that are not said in Shul should be said at home prior to arrival.
  12. The kitchens will be closed. No hot drink facilities will be available and there will be no kiddush after the service.
  13. The Shul will be cleaned before and after Shabbos. Between other services, handles and doors will be cleaned with disinfectant wipes.

Leyning

  1. The Rabbi will take all Pesicha and open and close the Ark.
  2. The Baal Koreh will take the Sefer Torah from and back to the Aron Hakodesh.
  3. You must not leave your seat and no one may kiss it.
  4. Anyone touching the Aron Hakodesh, Sefer Torah or Yad should wear disposable gloves.
  5. Calling up will be done by the Gabbai who will remain in his seat.
  6. Individuals who are receiving an Aliyah should wait for the previous person to return to their seat and only then walk directly to position themselves behind the perspex sheet.
  7. You should not touch anything including the Torah scroll, The Torah handle, the cover, the yad or the table etc.
  8. Once you are safely in position, recite the brachot.
  9. After reciting the final brachot you must immediately return to your seat before the next person is called up.
  10. Do not shake hands with anyone or touch any surfaces as you return to your seat.
  11. The Baal Koreh will do both Hagbah and Gelilah (Gelilah could be carried out by someone in the same household as the person doing Hagbah)

Suspected Case of Coronavirus

Should there be a suspected case of Coronavirus amongst those attending the Shul or potentially a cluster of cases in the local area, we have in place plans for a rapid shut-down. The actual action needed will be subject to the prevailing advice at the time.

Document last updated 28th July 2020