Church of Scotland



Monday, 01 January 0001

Church of Scotland - Advice on Coronavirus

Advice for Churches: COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

The following is offered as guidance to congregations across the Church of Scotland as of 11 March 2020.

At Communion services, churches should already be following best hygiene practices. During this time congregations may choose to avoid touching or shaking hands while sharing the Peace, if that is your practice. Some churches are making the British Sign Language sign for peace while saying words of peace instead. Speak to your minister or worship leader who can advise you.

  • The communion cup should not be shared. Use individual disposable or washable cups instead.
  • Bread should be not passed around via the “tearing and sharing” method but should be prepared by a single user who has thoroughly washed their hands before cutting up the bread.
  • To prevent avoidable handling of food and reduce the risk of cross-contamination use a pair of tongs or tooth picks to dispense bread
  • Ideally anyone preparing or handing out food and drink should wear disposable gloves
  • All utensils must be washed thoroughly with a detergent and dried before and after preparing the bread
  • Coffees and Teas should be dispensed by a small number of individuals and either placed on a table for collection, or cups and saucers are used to reduce hand contact.
  • All cups, saucers and plates must be washed thoroughly using a dishwasher if available
  • Individually wrapped biscuits and cakes are suitable, but please avoid sharing plates of open cakes and biscuits.
  • Use best hygiene practices when handling hymn books, collection plates or money.

If you need more advice on Communion cups or individual glasses, please contact Brian Auld, Safe Buildings Consultant.

It is also best practice for churches to have hand sanitisers available for parishioners to use.

Best hygiene practice should continue to be observed in all pastoral contacts.

Updated advice is available from NHS Scotland.

Whilst in places of worship, there is no need to avoid other worshipers who are well.

Public Health Scotland and the UK Government recommend that you should take usual infection prevention precautions including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available
  • Churches can underline the importance of handwashing by ensuring that hand sanitisers are not available in toilets where soap and water can be used
  • It is particularly important after taking public transport to use sanitiser on your hands
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Carry tissues to catch coughs and sneezes and bin the tissue
  • If you feel unwell, stay at home, do not attend work or school
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in church buildings

The threat posed by COVID-19 has been assessed by the Chief Medical Officer as “moderate”. This permits the Scottish Government to plan for all eventualities. The risk to individuals remains low.

NHS Scotland have prepared a poster which could be displayed at your building entrance to give advice to visitors. The purpose of this poster is to protect the visitor and those within the building.

Travel advice

Advice has also been issued to travellers who have returned to the UK from a number of countries.

This list of countries has been revised on 25 February and now includes parts of Northern Italy.

Anyone who has returned to the UK from any of these areas in the last 14 days and develops symptoms of cough or fever or shortness of breath should immediately:

  • Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people as you would with the flu.
  • Call NHS 111 to inform them of your recent travel to the country.

Below are two posters which you may wish to display in your buildings.

This page will be updated when new advice becomes available from NHS Scotland and the UK Government.

Online worship

Several churches live stream or post their services online. You can find a list of these on our Kirk services online page. -

The Church intends to issue briefings via the website and email on a regular basis, given rapidly changing circumstances and announcements from Health Protection Scotland and the Scottish Government. The most recent advice from Health Protection Scotland can be found here.