Further guidance for communities which remain open in Tier 4
Date Uploaded: 
Monday 28th December 2020

This email has been sent to US communities in Tier 4 that remain open. We would be grateful if you could forward it to your Honorary Officers  


Dear Chairs, Rabbis and Rebbetzens,


Following our email last week which set out policies for those communities located in Tier 4 areas (copied below for reference), we are writing with a further update.  This recognises the continued permission from Government for Covid-secure places of worship to operate, balanced by very rapid growth of infections in London and other Tier-4 areas, together with the emergence of new virus strains.  We are also particularly conscious of the very serious pressure on the NHS and front line medical and nursing staff, as well as our role in keeping people safe.  We continue to look PG to the growing ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ as the vaccination programme rolls out, but we still have a very challenging period to get through.


We should note that it is impossible to make shuls 100% safe. However, we continue to have good confidence in our Covid-secure measures, as long as they are fully implemented.  This view is reinforced by recent communications with our senior contacts at Public Health England.  


Due to the rapid growth of infections, in addition to the policies that are set out below, we are requiring that:

  1. Communities lower the Covid-capactiy of the spaces that are used for services by at least a further 25% and use the additional space to spread attendees out further. For example, if the Shul’s maximum capacity under the current provision is 40, it should now be reduced to 30 or lower. 
  2. Families who are due to celebrate a simcha permitted under our policies are asked to confirm in advance that they understand and will comply with our policies and will explain the requirement to do so to all of their guests.  We are particularly concerned about simcha celebrations because people attending may be less familiar with current protocols. Sadly, there must be an understanding that failure to comply on the day will lead to the service being stopped and if necessary individuals not being admitted or being asked to leave in order to protect everyone else’s safety

We also suggest that, even during the winter, consideration is given to moving services outside, potentially under a canopy – given the additional benefits of operating outside.  However, if this is done, attendees must wear face coverings. 


Finally, we want to re-emphasise the importance of managing the arrival and departure of attendees so that they do so in a staggered manner with no opportunity to mix households and to remind members not to walk to shul together / socialise on the way home.


We realise that communities continue to face a massive task supporting members and we are here to help – please do contact us. 


With best wishes

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Steven Wilson 

Chief Executive  

United Synagogue 


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Rabbi Nicky Liss 


Rabbinical Council of the United Synagogue