Churches offer a very difficult arbitrage to congregants, especially for Easter celebrations. Should a congregant not come to church when given the opportunity? Should a congregant come to church upon the lone basis that a religion is not exposed to the same rules as analogous venues? Implicitly, coming to church implies two assumptions:
The place of worship would manage better than analogous venues.
The congregants would be more responsible than patrons of analogous venues.
Covid will treat congregants as Covid addresses the general population. My own personal observation inclines me to believe that the basis of these two assumptions is weak. Worse, the exception accorded to churches may lead some congregants to assume that they themselves would be exceptional with regard to the threat of Covid.
Places of worship face difficult tasks in holding gatherings. Here is the rule for schools as of this month. One Covid-positive case and the school closes. Students may be tested twice a week. The rule for places of worship is detailed above and hasn't changed since December 2, yet we are none-the-less in a very different context. There is no incentive for congregants to test. If tested, there is no incentive for congregants to share that information with the place of worship. There is no incentive for places of worship to actively seek information from the congregants. There is no requirement for a place of worship to have any pre-decided plan.
In the case of hybrid physical-and-virtual worship, the best a place of worship can do is to fully welcome any virtual guest. The inability to be physically present may be considered a handicap.
Particular care should be given to any personal information requested and stored. Churches are subject to European GDPR rules (General Data Protection Regulation of the European Union) as any organization, and are probably as behind, if not further, than the median organization in France. Should the church ask for personal information (full names, emails and/or telephone numbers), the church should at least have an explicit plan for using that information, if not the invariable intention of using that information in a way acceptable to the individuals who share it ^9. Otherwise, I recommend not requesting the information in the first place.
What, if anything, would do or has done the American Church, Cathedral or Saint Michael's in the eventuality of a Covid case?
There is one statistic that I suggest we share. Among the pool of persons who have physically been present at services since March 2020, how many have contracted Covid, regardless of when they contracted it. This would be an indicative statistic only. In order to better qualify this statistic, it would be useful to indicate how many persons who have attended services who have not answered if they have or not contracted (tested positive for) Covid. We may also include an educated guess as to the number of persons who may have slipped through the cracks of our registration practices.
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