Wednesday, 19 February 2020 11:58

Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for parishes

For the latest guidance, please visit 

Updated 19 May 2021

Updated CofE guidance

Monday’s easing of restrictions means that the Church of England is working hard to update its guidance for churches. Those that have been updated already are listed below, but please do continue to visit the CofE website for further guidance.

The Revd Dr Brendan McCarthy, the CofE adviser on medical ethics and health policy, said: “The changes in guidance which came into effect on 17 May 2021 represent a relatively modest step along the road of easing restrictions affecting places of worship in common with many other public places.

“The increase in maximum numbers at weddings and the lifting of the cap on those permitted to attend funerals will be welcome by many families.

“A more extensive easing of restrictions is expected next month when England is due to move to step four on the Government’s ‘reopening’ roadmap.

“However, despite major progress in the rollout of vaccinations, recent developments around the world – especially the tragic events in India – show that there is still uncertainty ahead and we will continue to encourage a measured approach to the path forward as we seek to protect the most vulnerable.”

Updated documents:

>> Weddings

>> Baptisms

>> Funerals

>> Individual private prayer

>> Permitted Activities under national 'step' regulations

>> Conducting public worship


Updated 19 May 2021

Extension of Church Closure 

The present blanket extension was due to end after 16 May 2021. Bishop Libby has agreed that churches may continue to stay closed, if the incumbent and PCC so wish, until 30 June 2021. This will give time to assess the impact of any government announcements which are scheduled to be made on 17 May 2021 and on or in advance of 21 June 2021.

During the intervening period, churches should discuss their proposals for re-opening with their area deans and archdeacons.  A risk assessment will need to be completed and approved by the relevant archdeacon before a church may re-open.

It would be helpful if those churches which are already open would confirm that fact to Nicky Fenton, Bishop's Chaplain, and Cathy Luffman, the archdeacons’ P.A., so that an accurate picture can be formed of what is happening across the diocese.

Revd Nicky Fenton can be contacted at 
Cathy Luffman can be contacted at


Updated 19 May 2021

Singing update 

Government guidance states that singing should follow the principles of safer singing and the principles set out in the performing arts guidance. In particular:

  • Where music plays a big part in worship, and recordings are available, these should be considered as an alternative to live singing or performing.
  • Any instrument played during worship should be cleaned thoroughly before and after use.
  • Any performers should be positioned in a way that avoids face-to-face performance, as far as possible.
  • Limit the duration of any singing, as far as possible.
  • Do what you can to improve ventilation to ensure plenty of fresh air whenever possible, including opening windows.
  • Always ensuring there is a gap of at least 2m between any performers and the first row of worshippers. Further mitigations like screens or other barriers between the performers and worshipper may also be considered.
  • If worship takes place inside, the congregation should not participate in any activity that can create aerosols, including communal singing, shouting and chanting.

A group of up to six amateur singers can perform or rehearse for performance with physical distancing being maintained at all times. There is no limit on the number of professional singers, but they should follow guidance on performing arts. Children’s choirs can also perform, whether from one school or more than one, following Government advice for out of school settings on group sizes and infection protection and control for example. Where possible during worship the singers should be at the front of the church while the rest of the congregation remain seated. Communal singing, by the congregation, should not take place and strict physical distancing should be observed.

When communal worship takes place in the grounds or the outside space of a place of worship, the congregation may join in with singing in multiple groups, each consisting of up to 30 people, following the principles set out in the performing arts guidance. This includes ensuring that congregation members follow physical distancing rules. 

The Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) has produced more detailed resources on singing and music.


Updated 11 May 2021

Attendees for Funerals and Weddings from 17 May 2021 

Last night, the Prime Minister outlined Stage 3 of the governments road map for emerging from the current lockdown. 

For public worship, the following apply from 17 May 2021:

  • Funerals – numbers attending determined by Covid-secure limit of building
  • Weddings – up to 30 in Covid-secure places of worship

We are expecting CofE guidance to be updated in the coming days and will notify you of any further changes as they arise.


Updated 27 April 2021

Derbyshire Beacon of Hope Award Scheme

The Derbyshire Beacon of Hope Award Scheme has recently been launched, initiated by the High Sheriff of Derbyshire and the Lord Lieutenant, Derby City Council and Derbyshire County Council.

The awards look to identify, and to express thanks to those groups or individuals who have worked tirelessly to keep our communities safe, and our businesses moving during the global Covid-19 pandemic. The award will seek to highlight those in every sector and locality of the County that have played a key role.

Nominations are open to the public. If you know of a group or an individual that has gone above and beyond to help others during the pandemic, you can nominate them for an award using the nomination form on either the Derbyshire County or Derby City Council website (links below).

The closing date for nominations is 14 May 2021.

>> Beacon of Hope Awards on Derbyshire County Council website

>> Beacon of Hope Awards on Derby City Council website

>> Tony Walker, High Sheriff of Derbyshire talks about the Beacon of Hope Awards [YouTube]

Updated 27 April 2021

Holding of APCMs:

The National Church stated last week that the Government’s legislation for what is allowed from 12 April 2021 in phase 2 of the lifting of restrictions does not permit physical meetings to be held in churches or other buildings, apart from for the purposes of communal worship or for the provision of essential voluntary or charitable services.

Physical PCMs/APCMs must not, therefore, be held before 17 May 2021.  Ones which are to be held wholly by virtual means are able to go ahead.  If this causes you a problem, please contact your Archdeacon as soon as possible to discuss what should be done.

>> APCMs information on Diocese of Derby website

>> Further details on the CofE FAQs section of Coronavirus page


Up to date Guidance Documents

>> Four step government roadmap

>> Permitted Activities under national 'step' regulations

>> Conducting public worship

>> Legal questions on conducting public worship 

>> Individual private prayer

>> Face coverings

>> Weddings

>> Holy Communion 

>> Baptisms 

>> Funerals 

>> Ordinations and Consecrations 

>> Confirmation services 

>> Pastoral encounters

>> Outdoor worship and churchyards

>> Keeping church buildings clean

>> Opening cathedral and church buildings to the public

>> Opening church buildings for works to the building and interior 

>> Permissions for temporary works in churches and cathedrals

>> Pastoral support in the community including care homes

>> Mental health and wellbeing

>> Personal risk factors to clergy, church workers and volunteers

>> Safeguarding FAQs

>> Test and Trace

>> Church Heating

>> Live streaming Worship

>> Receiving Holy Communion by simultaneous administration



>> Church reopening poster (Word | PDF)

>> Risk assessment template for contractors and construction workers

>> Risk assessment template for opening church buildings

>> Risk assessment Template for Outdoor Worship

>> Test and Trace consent form template

>> Test and Trace online privacy notice template

>> Test and Trace privacy notice template


Covid-19 Permitted Activities under National 'Step' Regulations 

Added 12 April 2021

Government guidance states that, from 12 April 2021, communal worship is permitted provided that any person attending is alone or part of a group all from the same household or from two linked households and must not join any other group or mingle with any person from another group.

For churches planning to re-open, a risk assessment must be carried out and all reasonable measures taken to limit risk of transmission ofcoronavirus.

  • Weddings – up to 15 people are allowed for weddings held in church. This figure does not include clergy or those present to carry out a duty (warden / organist etc).
  • Funerals – up to 30 people are allowed for funerals held in church. 
  • Baptisms may be held as part of communal worship, but private services may not yet be held.

Note - clergy or those present to carry out a duty (warden / organist etc) or not included in this number.

Parent and child groups (i.e., groups for the benefit of children under 5) are permitted to meet indoors or outdoors (but not in a private dwelling) provided the gathering consists of no more than 15 persons (not counting any child under 5).

>> View overview of permitted activities

Update on Singing

Added 12 April 2021 

A single small group of singers - whether amateur or professional - will be allowed to perform, or rehearse for performance, only where essential to an act of communal worship. This should be limited to as few singers as possible. Communal singing should not take place and strict physical distancing should be observed.

When communal worship takes place in the grounds or the outside space of a place of worship, the congregation may join in with singing, and should follow the principles set out in the Performing Arts guidance. This includes ensuring that congregation members follow physical distancing rules.Communal singing in other public open spaces should not take place. From 29 March 2021, the new social contact limits apply, meaning the Rule of 6 applies unless all involved are from the same household or 2 linked households.

Dispensation from holding services

Added 12 April 2021

Churches that had previously been granted dispensation from holding normal services until the end of March have been told that this has now been extended up to and including 16 May 2021.

A reminder that if you wish to reopen a church for private prayer or Sunday worship before 16 May 2021 then you must look again at your risk assessments and, if any changes are made, send to the
relevant archdeacon for approval.

APMs and APCMs

Added 12 April 2021

The guidance document for holding APMs and APCMs during Covid-19 restrictions has been updated - please see the new version here.

The deadline for holding APMs and APCMs has been extended to 30 June 2021 with visitations taking place by the end of September. This should give parishes a degree of flexibility if they would prefer to hold their APCM once lockdown restrictions should have been eased.

Confirmation that it is quite in order to hold APCMs this year by zoom, as was allowed last year. 
The Registry will aim to update the guidance that was prepared last 
autumn, and it will be added to the website.

More information can be found here.

Digital streaming

Read some of the advice about recording video material and live streaming here.

View our list of forthcoming live-streams in the diocese.

Door-to-door deliveries

We have received a number of queries about the delivery of parish magazines, pew sheets, etc. The advice from the national CofE is that door-to-door deliveries do carry a risk of transmitting the virus, as the deliverer may well be touching garden gates, letterboxes and of course the items they are delivering.

The scientific evidence suggests that the virus can remain on cardboard for 24 hours, meaning that letters, leaflets and envelopes will carry a similar risk. Wearing gloves may protect the volunteer deliverer, but could transmit the virus from House A to House B unless they washed between each delivery. And, of course, deliveries of such items are not classed as essential travel by the government.

There is, of course, a desire for churches to keep in touch with those who are housebound or self-isolating who do not have access to digital technology.

Our advice is that pastoral support can be carried out by phone calls. If items do need to be delivered, they can be sent by the Royal Mail, as postal workers have been given training in how to deliver items more safely. It also cuts down on the number of visits to each household. This advice echoes the advice of the national C of E, which you can read under the FAQs here.

See also: CofE Coronavirus liturgy and prayer resources

Last modified on Monday, 24 May 2021 12:55