Hong Kong reopens churches for worship

 NOTICE OF THE HOUSE OF BISHOPS (Ref: HB/2020/08):Resumption of public worship services in Hong Kong

Following the Hong Kong SAR Government’s amendments to the Prevention and Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation in order to permit group gatherings during religious activities held in places of worship, the House of Bishops has decided that public worship services shall be resumed in our churches in Hong Kong starting from 4 October 2020, the first Sunday of the month.

Upon resumption of public worship services, all churches should follow the guidelines laid down by the Provincial Office and dispatched together with this notice.

In addition, churches should refer to the document Health Advice on Prevention of COVID-19 for Religious Assembly (Interim) issued by the Centre for Health Protection.While it is possible to conduct public worship services, other group activities (like fellowship groups, Sunday schools, etc.) are not to be resumed until further notice.Please pay close attention to the issuance of other notices by the House of Bishops or the Provincial Office as situation unfolds.By order of the House of Bishops

The Revd Canon Peter Douglas Koon
30 September 2020

Guidelines on the Resumption of Public Worship Services in Churches in Hong Kong

1. A parishioner meeting one of the following conditions should stay at home to pray:• feeling unwell, especially if having fever or respiratory symptoms;• having travelled in the past fourteen days;• a member of his/her household having fever or respiratory symptoms; or• a member of his/her household being in quarantine at home.
2. Maintain good ventilation within the church. Clean and disinfect pews and related items regularly.
3. Arrange seating in such a way that appropriate physical distancing is observed (e.g., by limiting seating to alternate rows). Standees should not be allowed in order to avoid the gathering of a crowd. The number of worshippers in a church at any instant should be limited to half of the church’s seating capacity.
4. A parishioner entering a church should wear a mask, have his/her temperature checked, and clean hands with handrub. Sidesmen will direct parishioners to their seats. Except for those in the same household, parishioners should be seated at least one metre apart from one another when possible, or be separated by partitions.
5. Abstain from dipping fingers into holy water fonts. Liturgy booklets for common use should not be provided. If necessary, print one-time booklets containing the order of service and/or hymn sheets for the parishioners.
6. Peace is to be exchanged by nodding head or by a fist-and-palm salute.
7. Offerings are not collected during a service. As they enter or leave the church, parishioners may put their offerings in a collection box placed near the entrance.
8. The Blood of Christ consecrated in the Eucharist is consumed by the celebrant alone. Parishioners are to receive the Body of Christ only in the hand and standing. They should sanitize their hands using handrub before receiving Holy Communion and observe appropriate physical distancing when waiting in line.
9. To avoid the gathering of a crowd, parishioners should refrain from social contact as they leave the church after a service. If a parishioner needs to commune with a member of the clergy, this should take place at another location with all parties wearing masks and keeping an appropriate physical distance from each other.
10. Pews and related items should be cleaned and disinfected immediately after a service.
11. Please consult the Health Advice on Prevention of COVID-19 for Religious Assembly (Interim) issued by the Centre for Health Protection, Department of Health, for more details on preventive measures.

Provincial Office – Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui
30 September 2020