Churches have been long characterized by their adherence to tradition and values. But the coronavirus has significantly altered our systems and how we proceed in our day-to-day lives. Even when the lockdowns all over the world are completely lifted, things will take a long time to come back to how they were previously. Just like everything else this pandemic has also affected worship and church life for the months and years to come.

A recent survey found that more than 90% of regular churchgoers in the United States were affected by churches closing their doors to combat the spread of coronavirus. However, sooner or later, we will have to reopen churches. Also, there is a dire need to change how church proceedings are carried out. In order to fully understand this situation, we have a lot to learn and must embrace the new normal.

Sanitation Guidelines

COVID-19 has caused us to put extreme emphasis on personal hygiene. With this pandemic, we have all had a lesson in proper sanitation. In light of this, churches will have to review and prepare for new sanitation procedures and guidelines. All commonly touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, countertops, and pews, will have to be regularly and properly cleaned. If resources allow, then it is recommended to have an expert at the church for overlooking all of this.

Social Distancing

Most of us were unfamiliar with the term social distancing before COVID-19. Now it is a part of the daily narrative and understood by most. Churches will have to create social distancing guidelines that are specific in nature. This will encourage members to practice safe distances during a transitional period. Sitting must be arranged so that the risk of infection spread can be lowered to the minimum possible value.

Face Masks & Hand Sanitizers

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, all major organizations and institutions have started to value the importance of face masks and hand sanitizers to flatten the curve. Ministry is expected to provide churches with these essential resources to help fight the spread of virus infections. Some churches have also announced to hand out free face masks and hand sanitizers in a drive-through operation. This can be extremely helpful to ensure safety as all of us return to worship at churches.

WHO Recommendations

World Health Organization (WHO) has also highlighted some recommendations for religious proceedings all over the world. A distance of at least 1 meter is advised between people at all times including seating or standing of participants in services and those entering, attending, and departing from the Church. No touching should be allowed between people attending the services. Any touching or kissing of devotional objects that the community is accustomed to must be prevented. Churches around the globe are also encouraged to have healthy hand and respiratory hygiene standards during services and other activities where gatherings are expected.

As lockdowns are lifted, churches are being allowed to reopen. However, there is a prevailing concern regarding safety and hygiene. Providing universal guidance for reopening churches is not possible or applicable. Churches must comply with local regulations. It is vital to understand that each church has its history and culture. Successful planning and preparedness should also consider the unique and specific risks each community faces, as needs differ from region to region and church to church.

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