COVID Safety Update for Meetings at UUC
With the Governor Inslee’s May 13 announcements on new health and safety requirements towards fully re-opening the State of Washington with few restrictions as of June 30, UUC is responding to updated guidelines for churches and religious organizations.
We are also taking to heart the May 20 directive issued by our local health authority, Public Health – Seattle & King County, urging all residents—including those who are fully vaccinated—to continue wearing masks and following physical distancing measures indoors, for a while longer. We want to watch the experience of any policy changes in the community at large and will make our adjustments according to results.
Beginning immediately, we are making some changes to the Chapel staging to prepare for appropriately distanced seating for Sunday services at UUC. We will continue to offer online access for all to every Sunday Service through our high-quality live-stream, through the Zoom “watch and greet” option, and via on-demand recorded video.
We’ll do some testing of these reconfigurations on May 23 & 30. For Sunday Services on June 6 and June 20, we will offer advance registration for limited, reserved seating in the Chapel, with overflow for live on-screen viewing in Nathan Johnson Hall. (The shortened worship service and Annual Congregational Meeting Sunday on June 13, and the GA Sunday Worship Service on June 27, will be online only.)
We will plan to accommodate singles, couples and groups of up to four in the Chapel and in the social hall. As we gain experience with the process, gauge demonstrated interest in coming back to church through the summer, and as state and county guidelines allow, we hope to gradually increase capacities and may revise or discontinue our registration system.
As we begin to open our Sunday services again, we will initially ask that only those who are fully vaccinated plan to attend on-site. We ask those who are not yet vaccinated, as well as those who prefer not to meet in-person for any reason, to continue to take advantage of online meeting options. We will assist groups meeting at the church throughout the week in providing online access to their meetings and programs, too.
For the time being, we will not be offering hospitality (coffee and refreshments) after Sunday services, but we will allow individuals to bring their own beverages and snacks if seated in Nathan Johnson Hall or outside, keeping masks in place except to briefly lift them to take a bite or a sip. We will close the church building for regular cleaning right after Sunday Services. Those attending on Sundays are welcome to continue socializing for a time outside the building, on the Lower Plaza and in the Memorial Garden. For now, we ask all groups to schedule other Sunday meetings online only.
We are considering the various impacts of
- Inviting some but not all people to come back to church, since vaccinations are not yet available to all ages.
- Checking vaccination documents at the door vs. using an honor system to welcome fully vaccinated members and friends back into the building. We look to State and local health authorities to provide additional guidance on this before June 6.
- Privacy concerns in retaining confidential attendance records for at least two weeks to facilitate contact tracing, should there be a positive COVID diagnosis among those meeting at the church.
As we gain more information on small and larger groups meetings in or outside the church over the summer, we will update our Pandemic Recovery Plan towards full reopening. We recognize that while some members and friends are eager to celebrate a return to UUC community without restrictions, others remain very guarded about their safety and public health. Thank you for your help and patience in joining us in this practice of discernment about how we gather, safely and sensitively.