After over 15 weeks since we closed the Shul doors as part of the lockdown, we are delighted to be less than one week away from re-starting services.
There has been a huge amount of effort on the part of the Rabbi as well as the Executive, Council, other volunteers and members of staff to get our building Covid-19 safe and we are all looking forward to welcoming a large number of members over the coming weeks into our Shul. As you might imagine, as with any public building, we are opening only after stringent safety checks. We will be operating our services within a very clear set of processes and procedures, adapted from the Government guidelines as well as those of the Office of the Chief Rabbi and the United Synagogue.
Below you will find a link to a general but detailed note on the re-opening up of Shul. Below that there is another link to a document providing specific guidelines for the services, for everyone to adhere to, be it a Shabbat morning service or any of the other Shabbat and weekday services we will operate.
We continue to work within the government guidelines, as well as those from the United Synagogue and the Office of the Chief Rabbi. At the same time, we want to be mindful of what is right and appropriate for our community here in Pinner. What we say below is up to date as at 29th June, but, as we have already seen in other areas of life, timescales can change - sometimes with little notice.
Assuming no changes to current timelines, we will open as follows:
- Sunday 5th July – weekday services start
- Shabbat 10th/11th July onwards. If all goes well with the weekday services, we will operate Shabbat services.
As we restart services in Shul, we have very clear protocols for how these services operate. Whilst the environment is not completely risk-free, our guidelines will allow us to operate services in Shul in as safe and secure manner as is possible. However, in making your decision you should always be mindful that attending a service/event in the shul building constitutes a communal gathering with inherent risks.
The virus that causes Covid-19 spreads most effectively when people are indoors, especially when not socially distanced. It is therefore imperative that we maintain social distancing within the synagogue. The risk of coming to a service cannot be accurately measured at present, and the risk will vary as the prevalence of the infection changes in the community.
Once the Shul is re-opened, if we determine that more than two new cases of Covid-19 arise within the community, we may be forced to close down the Shul building once more. Following the government guidelines, there are two groups of people who should be particularly aware of the risks of attending services, as follows:
- Those who CANNOT attend include:
- People who are shielded (extremely medically vulnerable), according to the government’s definition (until 1st August at the earliest)
- Those who show any symptoms of Covid-19, or who live with people with symptoms of Covid-19, or who have been in contact with a confirmed case (all in the last 14 days)
- Those who have been asked to self-isolate by the government’s Track and Trace programme
- Those who are in quarantine having travelled recently
- Children under the age of 12 (initially, although we will work to be able to allow children into the building as soon as possible)
- Those who should exercise their own judgment to decide whether they attend services include:
- Those released from shielding on 1st August
- Anyone living with someone who is shielding (even when the shielding restrictions are eased on 1st August).
- Additional groups at risk (a full list can be found on the government coronavirus website), including:
- Those over the age of 70
- Those with Asthma, diabetes or other chronic conditions.
Although we will still have Minyan rotas and WhatsApp groups, no person should feel pressurised in any way to attend any service in order to ensure that there is a minyan.
Access and being in Shul
There are some clear general rules that we will observe when entering the Shul buildings:
- Social distancing of 2 metres will be maintained at all times in the building, and when entering and exiting.
- There will be no access to the kitchen, the upstairs of the main building nor the Henry Jackson Centre for the initial phase of opening up and until further notice.
- The car park continues to be out of use until further notice.
- The maximum capacity in the main Shul hall will be 54 at any one time. The specific details for weekday and Shabbat services are set out separately.
- All attendees will need to enter the Shul with face coverings and keep them on for the duration of their time in the building. We expect members to bring their own face coverings and entry for services will not be allowed without them.
- All members will need to use hand sanitisers on entering and exiting the shul building.
- The cloakroom will not be available and coats etc will need to be kept with congregants whilst in the building.
- In services, surgical gloves will be required only for anyone opening the Ark or touching a Sefer Torah. We will provide these gloves in Shul.
- We will not be able to use the air conditioning, so the windows will be kept open during services to ensure that the Shul well ventilated.
- The building will be cleaned before every service - before Mincha and after Maariv (in readiness for Shacharit the following day).
- Initially the Shul will be used only for services. All educational, cultural and social events will continue to operate ‘virtually’ over WhatsApp/Zoom. Weekday minyanim will be streamed via Zoom for anyone who wishes to join from home.
- Children’s and Youth programming will continue to be provided remotely although we will aim to bring children back into the building as soon as possible.
Detail of services
Arrangements for Shabbat morning services and Weekday/Kabbalat Shabbat/Shabbat Afternoon services are detailed on separate documents, linked here.
Once we have had experience of the first few weeks of re-starting services, we will advise the community about our initial thoughts on the provision of services and associated activities over the Yamim Noraim. There will be also be a survey so that we can receive the updated thinking from members in respect of attending services over Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.