The Reopening Task Force has continued to follow the Covid-19 monitoring data from the MA Department of Public Health which shows a surge in new cases in October and November. As is also very evident from reports in the news media, this surge is equivalent to, and possibly worse than, the previous peak of the pandemic in April. What is even more concerning is that this surge is occurring even before we would expect to see the impact of increased traveling and gathering over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Under these circumstances, it doesn’t seem wise or responsible for us to consider expanding indoor services and gatherings during December and January, so the Task Force is recommending that we continue to limit in-person activities to what we have been doing, namely:
- Special Services (e.g. baptism) indoors, in-person for ≤ 10 people
- Small meetings in Board Room, Reception Room, Bell Room (≤ 5 people)
- Recording services or instrumental music in Sanctuary (≤ 5 people)
- Recording up to 2 vocalists or wind instrument players plus 1 accompanist in the Sanctuary
- Nursery School (Note that the children are segregated in class groups of ≤ 10.)
- AA and the Food Pantry, deemed necessary services by the MA DPH
This decision was not undertaken lightly, because all of us, including the members of the task force, would love to be able to experience our Advent and Christmas traditions together this year. But we need to do our part to help our immediate and broader communities flatten the curve of this surge and keep each other safe. We know that we are all disappointed, Task Force members included, not to be able to celebrate Advent and Christmas as we traditionally have done, but we have a responsibility to keep ourselves, and the members of our communities, healthy and safe.
Fortunately, our clergy and staff have done a wonderful job of planning worship services and other events for this Advent season. (Please check the listings in ‘Events at the Hills’.) Even though we won’t be able to gather in person, we will still be able to share our faith and traditions with one another in a meaningful way.
The Task Force will continue to follow the public health data and make recommendations about gathering after January, 2021. By that time, the first waves of vaccination may have started, and while most of us will not be in those high priority groups, the vaccines raise our hopes of beating this pandemic. And Hope, fittingly enough, is the first candle in Advent.
The Re-opening Task Force: Rob Andrews, Mimi DiAngelo, Anne Marie Halloway, Christopher Stowell, Matthew Wooster, Elaine Vildzius