As we start to think about re-starting face to face church services, and possibly even real bellringing (Ringing Room has been fun, but it’s not as good as the real thing), there has been a flurry of guidance from the Central Council (who we work closely with), advising on how to manage a safe return to ringing when the time comes.
I’ve spent quite a lot of time looking round this guidance, and triangulating it with other documents and news from elsewhere, and if its useful here is my “navigation” around these matters.
- First and foremost, it is for local incumbents and the church to decide when and how we can return to ringing. It is likely that this will be time limited (15 minutes seems to be the suggested amount of time) for service ringing only for the time being, although CCCBR is talking about how and when we can get back to something closer to normality.
- Due to the ongoing requirement to maintain social distancing, we are being asked to only ring bells that are 2m apart (except for ringers from the same family). This is going to be challenging for most of us.
- Local incumbents may decide not to allow us to return to ringing immediately. Whilst this would be immensely disappointing for many, we have to respect their decision. They are also in a difficult position with a lot of responsibility, which I don’t envy.
- However, as local experts of ringing (incumbents and church wardens are not always bellringers), we are in a good position to responsibly advise our local churches on best practice. Luckily, CCCBR have given us a suite of resources to use to do this.
- The first 6 guidance notes in this resource pack very helpfully walk the local tower captain or ringer through the things to consider and steps to take to before re-starting ringing. I would recommend that you read through these a couple of times, and offer to share these with your local incumbent and/or churchwarden, to facilitate a discussion if necessary.
- More detailed guidance is also available further down the CCCBR Covid page, including a Frequently Asked Questions section that is updated regularly, so worth re-checking intermittently. The last one (“I find this really confusing and it all seems unfair”) really spoke to me.
- There is a really useful fact sheet as part of all this to share with your local incumbents (you could also give it to your local churchwarden) – quick link is here.
- Please remember that some people have very strong opinions about this, both pro- and anti-risk, which could lead to arguments. If this cruel pandemic has taught us anything it is that we need our friends, colleagues and allies around us. I’ve found the best thing to do is simply to keep talking, accepting that others’ points of view may be equally relevant, and remember that we usually all want the same thing – to be healthy and happy.
- Finally, if I or any of the Association officers can help disentangle all of this for you, please don’t hesitate for a second to ask for help. Bellringing has taken a significant blow from Covid-19, but we can get through this together.