Data in the Twin Cities area indicate that the positivity rate for Covid cases has decreased in the last four weeks and the vaccination rate (for those eligible) is higher than 50%. Therefore, the Responsible Building Use Task Force has decided to enter Phase 4 in Westminster’s Re-opening the Building Plan, beginning June 1. Allowances in Phase 4 include:
- Allow groups of up to 75 people to meet in the building or indoors at off-site locations, provided occupancy is limited to the maximum capacity with 6-foot social distancing and masks.
- Allow groups of up to 250 people to gather in the sanctuary with 6-foot social distancing and masks.
- Allow outdoor gatherings of up to 150 people, provided the number of people is limited to the maximum capacity with 6-foot social distancing, both on-site and at off-site locations.
- All occupancy limitations may be increased or decreased by the COVID-19 Response Team as circumstances and regulations change.
In addition to moving to Phase 4, the task force updated the overall Re-opening the Building Plan and phasing requirements, which included addressing specific topics related to re-opening the building:
As a church in Minneapolis, those inside our building will be asked to continue wearing a mask, per the city ordinance. This includes those who are vaccinated and those who are not vaccinated. In addition, we encourage those who feel comfortable to continue wearing a mask outdoors at Westminster. However, it is no longer required outdoors except when singing.
Pre-registration No Longer Required
Beginning in June, pre-registration and check-in for worship and other events will no longer be required. However, those attending worship and events in person at Westminster are asked to self-monitor before coming to the church, which means staying home if you are sick. In addition, staff and volunteers will monitor the number of people attending events to ensure attendance remains within the occupancy allowances for Phase 4.
Beginning with the 10:30 am Worship on May 30, we will begin a phased return to congregational singing, masked and distanced. On May 30 and June 6, we will invite the congregation to join in singing the final hymn. This will allow us to ease back into singing. We expect by mid-June that we will invite the congregation to sing at other points of the service as well. Outdoor worship, beginning with Bluegrass Evening Prayer on June 2, we will invite masked singing through the entire service, and will continue to evaluate this process week to week as we follow Covid positivity and vaccination rates.
Preparing and serving food is now allowed at Westminster. Food can be prepared on the premises, plated, and served to individuals, or food can be brought in and served as individual servings (such as boxed meals or individually-wrapped snacks). Buffet-style service is still not allowed.
Westminster clergy, staff, and lay leaders strongly encourage anyone coming to Westminster to be vaccinated. If you are able to be vaccinated, doing so provides a way for us to care for each other and our community. For staff and volunteers serving children 12 and younger as well as vulnerable adults, vaccinations are required. A full FDA approval vaccination will be required for Westminster personnel as well.
Care for One Another
As more people begin to attend events and worship again, there will be a range of emotions. Please be patient with one another and remember one person may be feeling excitement while someone else might be feeling anxiety.
The task force will meet again in late June to determine if any additional allowances will be considered and to continue addressing questions related to fall programming. At this point, we expect Westminster to remain in Phase 4 through the summer and possibly move to Phase 5 in September. However, that will be determined by the task force, based on the Covid positivity numbers for the Twin Cities as well as the percentage of individuals getting vaccinated.
This summer will bring more outdoor events to Westminster, including weekly Bluegrass Evening Prayer on Wednesdays in June and July. Please read the Friday emails and Westminster News, follow Westminster on social media, and visit the calendar to find out the latest on upcoming worship and events.