Public Display Notice of Physical Distance-Based Capacity Limit (PDBC)
Congregations are legally required to publicly display their buildings' maximum capacity with physical distancing (PDBC) taken into account at the entrance of their buildings where the public can see it. This may mean displaying it externally on a notice board or next to the entrance door. The sign displaying the capacity should be large enough and clear enough for people to read easily (A4 sized).
Templates for posters are provided for congregations to use and can be downloaded below:
Due to the nature of attendance in churches it may prove difficult to set a maximum number due to factors such as whether people attend as individuals, or in household groups. It has therefore been agreed with the Scottish Government that congregations can display a range of numbers, for example ‘Maximum seated capacity in Sanctuary is 60-99 within 60 seating areas’. It is vital that when congregations set their PDBC limit for worship they also include the ministry team, musicians, AV operators, stewards, funeral directors and others who may not be counted within the worshipping congregation numbers as it is an offence to breach the PDBC limit.
As places of worship often have multiple discrete public spaces; for example, sanctuary, halls, and meeting rooms, a PDBC should be calculated for each separate space and displayed appropriately. Congregations should also set a PDBC for outdoor spaces if these are used for groups, activities or events. Further, as many spaces operated by congregations are used for different purposes the PDBC may differ substantially depending on the physical set up, for example, seated worship, café style event or activity class, and where this is the case it should also be reflected in the signage.
For ease, congregations should also consider stating “seating areas” as this will help the congregation support small family groups who attend the church for worship and other activities such as life events, especially for those planning to invite individuals to weddings and funerals.
For the avoidance of doubt the setting of a PDBC limit for places of worship should not alter the current practice of congregations. There is no change to the physical distance of 2m between individuals or the process already in place for congregations to set their maximum capacity. Children under 5 need not be counted in the number of people admitted to the building. However, where seating is provided for children, this should be included for space measurements, even where the children using the seating are expected to be under 5.
Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) will be responsible for the enforcement of the PDBC, and congregations should prepare themselves for a visit from their local authority’s environmental health department to discuss their PDBC. It will be an offence to permit anyone into your church buildings in excess of the PDBC.
Congregations are encouraged to also publish their PDBC for all spaces and different uses on their website to ensure that members of their congregation and the wider community fully understand the capacity of their church buildings.