Scottish Episcopal Church issues new advice on COVID-19 for members and clergy

March 6, 2020

The Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) today issued updated guidance on how members and clergy should respond to the spread of coronavirus (COVID 19), following recent developments.

Up until now, the SEC has followed guidance issued by the Church of England in connection with coronavirus. The Church of England has now changed its advice, and as a result, the SEC now issues its own guidance, reached after taking independent medical advice. Our new guidance from the College of Bishops is set out below.

  1. Continue to follow all public health guidance provided by NHS Scotland, in particular the need for good hand hygiene, and take precautions when coughing or sneezing, which are the main cause of infection.
  2. Cease physical contact on arrival at church and departure until further notice, as well as during the Peace which should be limited to a nod or a smile and a verbal “and also with you” while members remain in their pew or chair.
  3. Presiding priests should wash their hands thoroughly before the service, and use hand sanitiser when available during ablutions and before touching any wafers. Sanitiser should also be made available, if possible, to servers and anyone assisting with the distribution of communion, to be used as discreetly as possible without interrupting the flow of worship.
  4. Small altar linens should be fresh for each celebration of communion.
  5. Communicants should remain a respectful distance from the next person on their way to the communion rail, and at the rail.
  6. The sharing of the Chalice is suspended until further notice, and communion should be offered in one kind i.e. taking the bread only, placed into the hand.
  7. Church members should stay at home and not attend church services if they feel unwell and display influenza symptoms such as a cough, breathing difficulty, and fever. Pastoral support to those who believe they could have the virus should not involve personal visits, and can instead be offered by telephone call until such time as a medical test clarifies the person’s condition.
  8. Pastoral visitors to homes and hospitals should observe all precautions in personal hygiene before and after such visits.

To avoid confusion within the SEC, it will be helpful if a consistent approach is adopted across the church, by following the above guidelines.

The advice given today may be updated at any time during what is a fluid situation, and it will also be reviewed on a weekly basis. If there is a significant update, this will be communicated on the SEC website.

The latest public health advice on COVID-19 is available at

For further information contact:

John Stuart, Secretary General of the Scottish Episcopal Church
0131 225 6357 and


Donald Walker, Director of Communications of the Scottish Episcopal Church
0131 225 6357 or