Coronavirus: guidance as of March 12, 2020, 16:50
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Thursday 12th March 2020

Coronavirus: guidance as of March 12, 2020, 16:50

The situation is changing almost daily and in response to the latest developments, we would like to update our guidance to communities. We are aware that the government is about to release some new guidance, but given preparations for Shabbat, we wanted to get this email out to you now and will be in touch again tomorrow if we have further advice.


 We have been in touch with public health officials and medical experts to ensure that our advice is up-to-date. Our update this week focuses on Kiddush, community events and visiting members at home or in hospital.


As before, please do follow the national advice as it develops and also see NHS guidance and government travel advice.


Additional guidance in a United Synagogue context


Kiddush and food at events


We recognise the value that a Kiddush brings to our communities on Shabbat morning. However, it is not essential to hold a kiddush and we recognise that some communities might choose not to provide them at this time to avoid the potential spread of infection.


If you wish to continue to provide kiddush, please consider the following recommendations:

  • Avoid putting out food in shared bowls or plates 
  • Provide individual portions on plates or in bowls or wrapped food in party bags.  Consult with your Rabbi about portion size to ensure that attendees are yotzei kiddush, can fulfil kiddush. 
  • Alternatively, ensure that every item on a table is served with a cocktail stick or with its own utensil 
  • Be mindful of the expectations of those who have sponsored kiddush, ensuring that they are consulted in advance.

The guidelines above apply also to food at other community events.


Community events


At this stage, in line with government guidance, there is no requirement to cancel community events. However, the situation might change, in particular in relation to those events that attract or are aimed at vulnerable people and those aged over 70. It would be valuable to review your events programme for the coming weeks in this light.


Several communities have enquired as to whether they should go ahead with planned communal seders. At this stage there is no reason to cancel but this advice could change as the situation develops. If you have not yet committed to a communal seder, we would recommend you consider alternative ways for community members to be able to attend a local seder.


Visiting your members at home or in hospital


The safety and wellbeing of our members, volunteers and staff are our priority and we will continue to do all we can to keep everyone safe – and to support people who unfortunately become unwell.

If you are visiting people at home or in hospital, for the benefit of both the people who are doing the visits and the people who are being visited, please:

  • Telephone before you go to make sure the person/their family is happy for you to visit, where possible. If you are not able to visit, provide as much support as you can during the call and check if the person needs telephone support only or whether they have practical issues such as food or medicine.
  • Check if the hospital you are visiting has any special guidelines before you set out.

Please do not go if:

  • The patient/member has an infectious illness, corona virus or any other illness
  • You are unwell yourself, whatever your symptoms
  • You have been advised to self-isolate
  • You have been in contact with someone who has suspected or confirmed coronavirus
  • You have had contact with someone or have returned from any of the countries listed in either category one or category two on the UK government website.

During a visit, please:

  • Exercise good hand hygiene i.e. wash your hands before and after your visit. If you are visiting a number of patients in hospital, do this after each person you visit.
  • Check if the person needs help e.g someone to shop for them and let your care co-ordinator know.
Previous guidance can be found here: