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Publish Date: 09 February 2020
 

Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui take new measures to prevent spread of epidemic disease

COVID-19, which was first detected in Wuhan, China in December last year, is currently spreading rapidly throughout the country and other parts of the world. In response to the severity of the situation, the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui promulgated guidelines against the epidemic disease on 24 January. Meanwhile, the Missionary Area of Macau also announced that in accordance with the policy of the Macao government, weekday and weekend public services from 6 to 16 February will be cancelled.

The Province promulgated the Guidelines in response to the Novel Coronavirus to remind churches to keep buildings well ventilated. The Guidelines also offer the following advice: the congregation is to wear masks during services and rest at home if they suffer from symptoms of respiratory infection, such as coughs and fever; Sunday school for children will be suspended; adult classes will be rearranged at the discretion of each parish or mission church; avoid shaking hands during the sharing of peace; the celebrant and altar ministers should rub their hands with hand sanitizer before the offering of bread and wine, as well as immediately prior to the distribution of Holy Communion; during the Eucharistic Prayer, the bread and wine should be covered with purificators until the distribution of Holy Communion; these purificators should be changed after each service and washed thoroughly before reuse. In order to avoid cross infection, Holy Communion will be given under one kind only, while the Bread, and the Blood of Christ will only be consumed by the celebrant and/or the assisting priest.

Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui also issued a notice to all staff members on 28 January that they must wash their hands before they enter the office, and advises them to wear masks while going out; stay at home and seek medical attention if they suffer from symptoms of COVID-19. All staff members who had been to mainland China should report to their superiors about the locations they visited. The province also suspends all staff’s working trips to mainland China with immediate effect. Staff may also apply to work at home if needed.

Special Arrangements at Parish and Mission Churches

All parishes and mission churches also made arrangements in response to the epidemic. For example, the staff at All Saints Cathedral at the Diocese of Western Kowloon worked in shifts from 3 to 9 February. Their office hours were also changed to 11 am to 3 pm during this period. A chaplain and two staff members were on duty every day to maintain the cathedral’s basic services.

Staff members at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in the Diocese of Eastern Kowloon worked from home from 3 to 8 February.

Many church events were postponed or canceled, among them: the Provincial Servers’ Guild Annual Eucharist on 1 February, Diocese of Western Kowloon Diocese Cup Basket Ball Matches on 8 and 15 February, a carnival at St Titus’ Church on 8 February, St John’s Cathedral’s Michaelmas Fair Walkathon on 16 February, a fun fair at Holy Spirit Church on 22 February, and a joint retreat held by the three diocese and the Missionary Area of Macau on 29 February to 1 March.

Minghua Theological College canceled its Theology Month 2020 event, which was to be held 10 – 28 February. Its graduation ceremony and evening prayer service, which were to be held on 23 February would be postponed.

Missionary Area of Macau suspended public services

Missionary Area of Macau announced on 5 February that all weekday and Sunday services as well as public events from 6 to 16 February were suspended, to be in line with the government’s policy. Arrangements for weddings and funerals will be made between individual churches and parties concerned. The Missionary Area advises parishioners to stay at home as much as possible and avoid going out. Churches will make broadcasts of their Sunday services on 9 and 16 February through the internet.

HKSKH Welfare Council suspends some services

The HKSKH Welfare Council introduced measures in dovetail with the Hong Kong Government’s policy to reduce the risk of infecting COVID-19. Basic services are maintained during February while some services are suspended and some staff members are allowed to work from home.

Services at all government sponsored child care centres, elderly day care centres, sheltered workshops, integrated vocational rehabilitation services centres, and day activity centres were suspended until 17 February. The decision to extend the suspension of services depends on further announcements from the Social Welfare Department of Hong Kong. Services at Solar Tower and other campsites will also be suspended until further notice. 

Other social service units continue to provide basic services, and face-to-face counseling services are run as usual. All large-scale events, social events, trainings, and large-scale conferences are either suspended or canceled.

Furthermore, all staff members who are pregnant or suffer from chronic ailments are working from home until 29 February. Other members of staff were also to work from home until 9 February, depending on the nature of their jobs. Both arrangements may be extended or changed depending on future developments.

Schools suspend classes until further announcements

As for the education ministry, the Education Bureau announced on 31 January that all schools, including kindergartens, primary schools, secondary schools, special schools and private schools that offer unofficial courses will remain shut until 16 March.

Aside from following the instructions of the Education Bureau, The Anglican Secondary Schools Council, Anglican Primary Schools Council, and Anglican Early Childhood Education Council wrote to school principals on 3 February, appealing to them to provide enough staff to keep schools open, minimize the need for teachers to attend meetings or work at school. School may hold video conferences or meet via other media to reduce the demand for protective equipment and the spread of the disease.

The Education and Youth Affairs Bureau of Macau announced on 30 January that all tertiary education institutes, secondary schools, primary schools, kindergarten, private tuition centres, and continuing education institutes would remain shut until further notice. An announcement to commence the school term would be made a week prior to the reopening of schools . 

Anglican Primary Schools Council announced to all its member schools on 3 February about the cancelations and postponement of the activities and events planned for February and March. These events include sports days, training for the International Math Olympiads, School Board members’ meeting about internet price plans scheduled on 11 February, St Peter’s Primary School Celebrations on 14 February, Retreat for school Principals on 18 February, Life Education Seminar on 15 February, a singing competition on 29 February, HKSKH Joint School Robotic Competition and a family cooking competition on 7 March, a further studies meeting for teachers on 13 March, and a stress release activity for school principals on 31 March.

The story writing competition held by Spring Rain, a publication under the Anglican Primary School Council, will extend its deadline from 5 to 22 February.

 

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