H&S Covid risk assessment

There are ongoing risk assessments following government and Church of England advice and guidance.

Risk Assessment for Opening Church Buildings to the Public

Version Control

Issue Date Version Number Issued by
22nd May 2020 1 The House of Bishops COVID-19 Recovery Group
8th June 2020 2 The House of Bishops COVID-19 Recovery Group
12th June 2020 3 The House of Bishops COVID-19 Recovery Group
1st July 2020 4 The House of Bishops COVID-19 Recovery Group

Issue Date: 7th August 2020 3              The House of Bishops Recovery Group
Update from version 2: this document has been updated to reflect the change in the law requiring face coverings be worn in places of worship from 8th August

Churches and cathedrals have been legally permitted to open for purposes of individual private prayer from 13th June. House of Bishops guidance provided for churches to open for funerals from 15th June. Public worship, with measures in place for social distancing, are allowed from 4th July. Other activities, except for a few still prohibited by law, may also take place in churches, subject to the government guidance in place for the relevant sector.

The government guidance for the safe use of places of worship during the pandemic requires a COVID-19 risk assessment to be carried out for every building and site open to the public. This document provides a template risk assessment, with links to the relevant advice notes. It relates to opening up church and cathedral buildings to clergy and members of the public entering for any permitted purposes. As well as offering guidance on best-practice, it is also intended to help parishes make a decision on whether to open for any or all of these purposes or not, based on their local circumstances, resources and context. You should read the advice on re-opening buildings and the guidance on public worship before completing this assessment. Both are available on the Church of England Coronavirus pages.

Future versions of this document will be produced when there is any substantive change to the guidance on the safe use of places of worship.

A separate risk assessment relating to contractors and construction workers is available on the Church of England Coronavirus pages. 

Risk assessment 




St Andrew’s

Assessor’s name:


Gill Drake

Date completed:



Review date:





Area of Focus Controls required Additional information Action by whom? Completed – date and name
Access to church buildings for clergy for purposes of private prayer and/or livestreaming


General advice on accessing church buildings can be found here.

One point of entry to the church building clearly identified and separate from public entry if possible   AC GD MMG 8.6.20
A suitable lone working policy has been consulted if relevant. An example can be found here. GD 8.6.20
Buildings have been aired before use.   GD MMG 8.6.20
Check for animal waste and general cleanliness.   GD 9.6.20
Ensure water systems are flushed through before use.


See Government Guidance for organisations on supplying safe water supplies GD 5.7.20
Switch on and check electrical and heating systems if needed. Commission system checks as necessary.   MMG 8.6.20
Holy water stoups and the font are empty.   AC GD MMG 8.6.20
Ensure safe use of equipment needed for livestreaming: avoid exceeding safe load on sockets, cables/tripod causing trip hazard Not applicable    
Deciding whether to open to the public Discuss with nearby venues and businesses to ensure that the timing and practical arrangements for using the church are compatible. Not applicable    
Update your website, A Church Near You, and any relevant social media.   GD ongoing
Consider if a booking system is needed, whether for general access or for specific events/services Not necessary    
If opening to tourists consider applying for the Visit Britain ‘Good to Go’ standard mark Apply here.    
  Include details on requirements such as bringing a face covering in communications. Posters, notices and website updated GD ongoing
Preparation of the Church for access by members of the public for any permitted purposes, including worship and tourism Confirm that all steps (above) for access by clergy have been carried out before anyone else accesses the building.   GD 1.7.20
Review CofE guide on cleaning church buildings. Complete the ‘cleaning’ section of this risk assessment (below). Advice on cleaning church buildings can be found here. AC GD MMG 8.6.20
Choose one point of entry into the church to manage flow of people and indicate this with notices, keeping emergency exits available at all times. Where possible use a different exit. Signs up GD 8.6.20
Make any temporary arrangements for people to wait or queue outside the building (taking into account any consequential risks arising from people gathering outside). Not necessary    
Where possible, doors and windows should be opened temporarily to improve ventilation.   GD MMG Ongoing
Remove Bibles/literature/hymn books/leaflets Board across GD 8.6.20
Cordon off or remove from public access any devotional objects or items (if they are liable to be touched or closely breathed on) Lady Chapel and vestries cordoned off GD 9.6.20
Consider if pew cushions/kneelers need to be removed as per government guidance Not necessary    
Remove or isolate children’s resources and play areas In choir vestry which is cordoned off GD 9.6.20
Read the CofE guide on face coverings and produce signage or other relevant materials to indicate compliance with the law requiring these for all except those exempt. Disposable face masks are available for anyone coming who doesn’t have one AC 2.8.20
Walk through the church to plan for physical distancing in seats, aisles, at the altar rail, including safe flow of visitors. Remember 2m in all directions from each person (or 1m with risk mitigation if absolutely necessary).   AC GD MMG  
Clearly mark out seating areas including exclusion zones to maintain distancing. Laminated seat markers to indicate where people have sat MMG 5.7.20
Clearly mark out flow of movement for people entering and leaving the building to maintain physical distancing requirements. Signs in place GD 9.6.20
Limit access to places were the public does not need go, maybe with a temporary cordon in needed. Vestry, Lady Chapel & Chancel GD 9.6.20
Determine placement of hand sanitisers available for visitors to use. Register with Parish Buying for procurement options. HMC 28.6.20
Determine if temporary changes are needed to the building to facilitate social distancing Consult advice on gaining temporary permissions. Not needed  
Put up notices to remind visitors about important safe practices e.g. no physical contact, practice hand washing etc.   AC GD MMG 9.6.20
Ensure high-risk surfaces and touch points have been wiped with appropriate sanitiser spray or disposable wipes Advice on cleaning church buildings can be found here. GD Ongoing
Check that handwashing facilities have adequate soap provision and paper towels, and a bin for the paper towels. Register with Parish Buying for procurement options. GD Ongoing
Where there are toilet facilities, ensure an adequate supply of soap and disposable hand towels, and a bin for towels, are available. Laminated sheets so people can indicate if toilet has been used MMG 5.7.20
Ensure all waste receptacles have disposable liners (e.g. polythene bin bags) to reduce the risk to those responsible for removing them.   GD 9.6.20
If possible, provide safe means for worshippers and visitors to record their name and contact details; retain each day’s record for 21 days   GD 9.6.20
Give due notice of the resumption of use of the building to neighbours, congregation and wider community, ensuring that visitors and worshippers will know what to expect when they come.   GD 9.6.20
Cleaning the church before and after general use (no known exposure to anyone with Coronavirus symptoms)


Advice on cleaning church buildings can be found here.

If the church building has been closed for 72 hours between periods of being open then there is no need for extra cleaning to remove the virus from surfaces.      
If 72-hour closure is not possible then check all cleaners are not in a vulnerable group or self-isolating.   GD 5.7.20
Set up a cleaning rota to cover your opening arrangements. Will be with the opening rota GD 2.7.20
All cleaners provided with gloves (ideally disposable). Register with Parish Buying for procurement options. HMC 28.6.20
Suitable cleaning materials provided, depending on materials and if historic surfaces are to be cleaned. Register with Parish Buying for procurement options. HMC 28.6.20
Confirm person responsible for removing potentially contaminated waste (e.g. hand towels) from the site. Bin emptying at end of day by closer or Church Warden GD 5.7.20
Confirm the frequency for removing potentially contaminated waste (e.g. hand towels) from the site – suggested daily removal. Toilet and bin at entrance daily, kitchen bin when necessary Closing rota


Cleaning the church after known exposure to someone with Coronavirus symptoms If possible close the church building for 72 hours with no access permitted.   AC GD MMG  
If 72-hour closure is not possible then follow Public Health England guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare settings. Public Health England guidance available here.    
If the building has been quarantined for 72 hours, then carry out cleaning as per the normal advice on cleaning. Advice on cleaning church buildings can be found here.