• Fr. Guillermo A. Arboleda

COVID-19 Safety Guidelines (Summer 2021)

The following resolution was approved by the Rector, Wardens, and Vestry of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church of Savannah, Inc., on May 5, 2021. St. Matthew's will welcome the public back to in-person worship on Sunday, June 6, 2021. Scroll down to the bolded paragraph for the list of Safety Guidelines our worshippers will need to follow when they attend.

Whereas, The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia revised its “COVID-19 Safer Standards Chart” on April 23, 2021 to allow for fewer safety restrictions in indoor worship;

Whereas, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church now qualifies for up to 72 people to be present at an indoor worship gathering in the nave/sanctuary;

Whereas, More than half of respondents (27 of 44) to St. Matthew’s Lent In-Person Worship Survey indicated in March that they would attend in-person worship services within a few weeks of authorization, meaning it is unlikely that we will reach our attendance limit in the immediate future;

Whereas, All survey respondents agreed to uphold St. Matthew’s Safety Guidelines as they were written in March, when the guidelines were more restrictive;

Whereas, Twelve survey respondents [NAMES REDACTED] indicated that they would volunteer as ushers to help enforce the Vestry’s established COVID-19 guidelines;

Whereas, 90% of survey respondents were already vaccinated in March or intended to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible, and sufficient time has passed to allow for many intended vaccinations to become actual vaccinations;

Whereas, All United States residents aged [12] and older are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination; and

Whereas, COVID-19 infection rates in Chatham County are in decline and have remained at a low level (less than 15 average daily cases per 100,000 residents) since March 24, 2021; now, therefore, it is

Resolved, That the Rector, Wardens, and Vestry of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church of Savannah, Inc., will authorize in-person worship gatherings of up to 70 people (including ministers and musicians) beginning on Sunday, June 6, 2021, with the following amended safety guidelines in place:

1. All attenders are required to wear masks that cover the nose and mouth at all times (except when speaking from a podium, pulpit, etc., that is 25 feet from the congregation) and masks will be provided to those who come without them;

2. Individuals or families/pods will be spaced at least 6 feet apart;

3. Temperature will be taken upon entry;

4. One-way foot traffic throughout the building (following arrows on the ground);

5. No more than 1 hour of total time in the church;

6. No congregational singing;

7. Hand sanitizer available at all entrances;

8. No hugging or handshakes, even at the Peace;

9. When Eucharist is offered, it is received in one kind (bread only) from the pews;

10. No food, drinks, or Coffee Hour on Sundays (food and beverages may be served in small groups of less than 20 fully vaccinated people);

11. Restroom access limited to one at a time, only when absolutely necessary;

12. Obligation for all worshippers to contact the church if you develop COVID-19 symptoms within 5 days of attending;

13. Contact tracing via recorded attendance and seating charts;

14. Volunteer ushers will enforce these safety guidelines throughout the service;

15. Door knobs and handles, stair rails, pews, handrails, and light switches will be disinfected before all services; and

16. Worship services will still be available to view online; and it is further

Resolved, That the Rector, Wardens, and Vestry will hold training meetings for all ushers and other volunteers to help them understand and enforce the above COVID-19 safety guidelines in May, and that ushers will be assigned to work on Sundays in pairs to ensure adequate coverage;

Resolved, That one or more Sundays in May will be used as a trial period to test these safety guidelines with a smaller group of worshippers (namely Vestry members and trained ushers) up to 25 people at a time; and it is further

Resolved, That the church will not discriminate on the basis of age or vaccination status, especially since children under the age of [12] are not eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccinations at this time.

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