From 26 April 2021, informal hospitality can now resume in places of worship for those congregations in protection levels 0 to 3. This includes refreshments after services, coffee mornings and lunch clubs. However, there are significant restrictions in place on the number of people who can attend such events. Congregations must not exceed their Physically Distanced Based Capacity (PDBC) Limit, and this is particularly important if hospitality is offered in a different area of the building from where worship or life events take place. Congregations should familiarise themselves with the Scottish Government’s guidance for the hospitality sector and only offer hospitality if they believe that it is safe to do so.
At all protection levels, those attending hospitality (including worshippers after a service), must remain seated and be served in their place. There must be 2m physical distancing between each household on both their own table or the neighbouring tables, and the number of people at each table must not exceed the current restrictions. Face coverings must be worn at all times, unless exempt or consuming food or drinks. Particularly when hospitality is offered before or after worship, congregations must ensure that those attending do not mix between tables, and that 2m physical distancing is maintained when moving from the service to where hospitality is provided. It should be noted that places of worship are not permitted to utilise the 1m physical distance as detailed in the hospitality guidance for Cafes and Restaurants. A 2m distance must be kept at all times.
Commercial cafes within church buildings are also able to reopen. Those who are responsible for the cafe must ensure that they have undertaken a COVID-19 risk assessment and share this with the congregation. Commercial cafes can only re-open once the congregation has completed their own COVID-19 risk assessment and buildings checklists. In addition, commercial cafes must comply with the Scottish Government’s guidance for the hospitality sector, including the requirement to comply with Trace and Protect. Full details can be downloaded from the Scottish Government website.
Commercial cafes and informal hospitality can only restart in church buildings when all of the guidance relating to cleaning and disinfection and hand hygiene and general precautions can be fully implemented. In addition, commercial cafes and those members of the congregation providing hospitality should also refer to Food Standards Scotland guidance on reopening food businesses.