Reopen Safety Procedures:  Parish of St John the Baptist

Phase 1 edition,                                                                                         V.7    3/21/2021

Government Directives

Diocesan Directives

Communication to parish, including at-risk population

Signage in church to reinforce guidelines and procedures.

Information on procedures to be included in service bulletins.

Procedures to be published and shared through normal parishioner emails and newsletters.

Key messages:

  • Encourage people to stay home if at-risk population or feel ill or exposed to Covid-19.
  • Set expectations for what to expect – masks, social distancing, the dispensing of some normal worship procedures. This is the “new normal” for a while.
  • Compliance with procedures is required.
  • Pre-registration for upcoming onsite worship to include restatement of safe entry requirements.
  • We are under authority of the government and Bishop.


Length of services will be < 1 hour to minimize exposure time.

  1. Zoom gatherings are still our primary Sunday method in Phase 1. In person worship will start with 8:00 am Rite 1 Service to be limited to 40 or less scheduled to begin May 2. (Congregants/Clergy/Acolytes/Ushers) included in overall count. After evaluation of our procedures at this service we will determine the next steps for more widespread opening of the church for onsite worship following the guidelines below:


  • Main entrance to the church will be the only entrance and exit door. Weather permitting, it will be kept open throughout the service. Other doors will have signage directing people to main door.
  • We will use stickers or markers on the ground outside the church to maintain social distancing.
  • We will use three safety ushers:
    1. One outside (masked and gloved) who keeps people socially distanced, performs intake, does mask check and invites people one at a time to enter the Narthex. Door will be open and remain open. (Having small table outside the main entrance is needed for the outside usher).
    2. Second and third safety usher (masked and gloved) will escort congregants one at a time into the nave and seat them.
  • Safety training and documentation of the training for ushers will be provided to ensure that they understand and comply with all Safety Procedures. Inside safety ushers will show people where restrooms are and show them where to find a bulletin and mask before seating them.
  • Congregants will be escorted down the side aisles to be seated, and escorted to the exit via the center aisle, and through the main doors outside. Pews and chairs will be marked spaced 6’ apart to assist ushers in socially distancing attendees.  In the Narthex place seats with backs facing the main aisle to create a designated walkway to keep people from straying upon exiting.  Seating will be from the front of the church back and dismissal will start with the back and work forward.  The 3 rows of pews and single seating in the front will cover the maximum number allowed.
  • For funerals, we will exit family out a side entrance so that they may leave first and gather outdoors. Other congregants will be escorted out furthest-back row first.
  • When exiting start with able bodied first as starting with persons with mobility issues can slow emptying of the entire church.
  • Congregants will not be permitted to gather in the Narthex after the service.


  • Registration process through invitation responses (eventBrite or email invitation).
  • Safety ushers will check in attendees outside the church and “intake” them (see below).
  • We will retain all attendance info to be available as needed for contact tracing.
  • List provided to the outside usher needs to include all attendee names and number attending with each respective group or family so the usher understands who needs to be socially distanced (or not) in advance.

Health/wellness intake

  • Outside safety usher will use a contactless thermometer to take temperatures before entering (best location would be the temporal side of the head however for people wearing significant make-up, it won’t work properly & an alternate location is needed such as side of neck but unclear about validity).
  • If anyone’s temperature exceeds 100 degrees, they will respectfully be asked to not enter the church.
  • Safety usher will go through the following inventory with each visitor:
    • In the past 2 weeks, have you had any of the following as new symptoms: Fever, chills, cough, breathing difficulties, muscle aches, headache, loss of taste/smell, sore throat, runny nose, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea?
    • Have you been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days?
  • If participant says yes to any question above, we will ask them not to enter the church.
  • Safety ushers will tell presider if a person is non-compliant, who will decline to begin the service unless the person leaves, and/or invite person to stand outside the door and watch the service from outside.


  • Signs outside the main entrance of the church that says “Please stand 6 feet apart unless in same household”.
  • Covid-19 screening sheets should have additional signage about proper mask use – keep over your nose at all times, try to minimize touching nose, mask, eyes.  Hand sanitizer is in the pews for if you do touch your face.

Seating (pews)

  • Pews will be cordoned off to allow access to pews with adequate social distancing.
  • Each pew will have taped crosses to show where people may sit.
  • We will remove cushions for those pews used for seating.
  • Need to establish aisle seating areas for any attendees with mobility issues and their family.

Access to hand sanitizers:

  • In Narthex
  • Outside restroom
  • At altar
  • In each pew

Masks will be required, including of clergy; masks will be available for those who need them.


  • Congregants will turn and bow or make Namaste sign—no moving about congregation.


  • No congregational singing (humming ok).
  • No choir during phase 1.
  • Paid musicians: 10 ft apart, 30 ft from congregation, masked except when singing.

Offering plate (if relevant)

  • Set on stand, no passing of plate.
  • Those handling money/checks will be gloved.

Bulletins/removal of prayer books

  • All prayer books and hymnals will be removed and stored.
  • There will be a table in Narthex or outside the front doors for congregants to pick up their own bulletin before entering; they will be laid out so that congregants can touch only one bulletin at a time.
  • Bulletins will be removed from pews after the service with gloved hands and recycled.


  • Note: restrooms are singles, with closed doors.
  • There will be a hand sanitizer outside restrooms on the wall.
  • Signage inside the restroom will encourage handwashing.
  • Signage outside will suggest hand sanitizing after touching door handle.

 Supplies Needed

  • Nitrile gloves are needed in all sizes (small/medium/large/extra-large) to fit all usher respective hand sizes


  • For Phase 1 reopening clergy will continue to use the small prefilled Chalise set currently being used. No common cup or unsealed bread.

Coffee hour/food

  • No onsite receptions for funerals – no offsite events arranged by church.
  • On-premise coffee hour will be suspended for phase 1.
  • Virtual coffee hour on Zoom where applicable.

Cleaning Procedures

  • We will coordinate with OES at all times to ensure we know who/what has been used and cleaned.
  • Relevant surfaces: pews, door handles, and frequent touch-points.
  • Safety ushers will clean before and after each service.
  • Cleaning materials: Clorox wipes/other approved wipes by CDC standards.

Church meetings/outside groups/office hours

  • Clergy and administrator will normally stagger in-office days; masks worn at all times except for in private office with door closed.
  • No onsite lay meetings in phase 1.
  • No outside groups in phase 1.