Although it has not been finally signed off, all indications are that the PHE guidance is based on the Central Council guidance notes which have been amended a little. We have been working towards final drafts which have been submitted to PHE for approval. On balance the result of the review and associated negotiation has been positive, although there is no sign that they will be looking to relax the guidance in the short term. Note this is Church of England guidance specifically, but the guidance on ringing generally should be interpreted in local context.
The Church of England Recovery Group are happy with the revised guidance, particularly now that there has been dialogue with PHE. Whereas a week ago
they said “we would really prefer it if you didn’t ring” they are no longer saying that. Unless between now and tomorrow PHE come back negatively, and that does look unlikely, ringing in accordance with the CC guidance now has the Church’s blessing. No one is telling anyone they cannot ring provided it is in accordance with the guidance.
There is a significant relaxation in terms of the distance between adjacent bells that fall in a straight line. That suggestion actually came from the PHE themselves. One proposed change that we have resisted is for the ‘two household’ rule to be applied, on the grounds that is it not being applied to churches generally. There is still a chance that PHE will want that in, but as things stand they haven’t.
The guidance notes will now get published in line with the final drafts submitted to PHE. Once these have been uploaded to the website, I am busy for the rest of the day. Phil Barnes is also busy with the Kent County Association AGM. The guidance will not therefore be looked at again before Monday, it at all.
The principal changes that have been made are:
2. Making your tower as safe as possible
The minimum distance between ropes has been reduced to 1.5m for ropes that are in a straight line, as long as ringers are facing forwards and the ringers opposite are at least 2m away.
Perspex screens are not approved
All surfaces to be cleaned regularly
The notes about Perspex screens and 15 minutes only being a start have been deleted
4. Running safe ringing sessions
A comment about ringing the minimum number of bells that are ‘appropriate for the occasion’
Clarification that members of the same household can ring adjacent bells, plus the 1.5m for ringers facing forward is reiterated
Increase ventilation as much as possible
5. Can I go ringing safely
Clarification re ringers who have already had Covid-19
Clarification on why you shouldn’t touch your face
Additional note about not raising your voice (conductors note!)
Note about arriving on time and not hanging around
The FAQs have also been updated accordingly.