The below letter from the Provincial Grand Secretary / Scribe E
was sent on 06 August 2021
Dear Brethren and Companions,
Today, the First Minister confirmed the positive news that Wales will move to alert level zero tomorrow, 7 August 2021. As outlined in First Rising #21, the stance of the United Grand Lodge of England is as follows:
- In holding Lodge and Chapter meetings it is essential that Brethren and Companions comply with all legal requirements from time to time in force.
- Provided that they do so, it is not UGLE’s policy to impose restrictions on meeting beyond those required by the law.
- No pressure must be applied to anyone either to attend or refrain from attending meetings.
- The same principle applies to the wearing of face coverings, which should be regarded as a matter of personal choice.
- The use of the modifications to the ceremonies, introduced in the summer of 2020 to enable ceremonies to be performed, should cease as soon as is practicable, except where local legal requirements are imposed in relation to such matters as social distancing.
- The ceremony of Raising (and of Exaltation in the Royal Arch) is once again permitted.
- It is nonetheless sensible to ensure that a candidate for any degree, and in particular that of initiation, is made aware that the ceremony he will undergo will involve a measure of physical contact, so that he can make his own decision as to whether to proceed with it at this time.
- Regulations 5 to 11 of the Temporary Emergency Measures for Covid-19 remain in force, to the extent that they are needed, until 31 December 2021, or such earlier date as the Grand Master or the Pro Grand Master on his behalf shall direct. The Pro Grand Master directed that Regulations 1 to 4 ceased to apply from 19 July 2021 (in England) and shall cease to apply from 7 August 2021 (in Wales) except in relation to the unexpired period of a suspension already notified in accordance with them.
The opportunity for Lodges and Chapters to voluntarily suspend their meetings has therefore come to an end.
Following almost seventeen months of restrictions, the introduction of alert level zero by the Welsh Government is an approach that places a greater emphasis on advice and guidance rather than regulation. “[The measures] provide the maximum degree of easement possible, recognising the wider harms of restrictions, whilst minimising the spread of the virus.” 1
Provincial Grand Lodge and Provincial Grand Chapter do not intend to implement unnecessary additions or embellishments to the legal requirements in force in Wales. From tomorrow there are no limits in law on the number of people who can meet indoors; face masks will only be required in healthcare settings, on public transport, and in spaces that are open to the public (which most Masonic Halls generally are not); and there will be no legal requirement for physical (social) distancing.
Masonic Halls and Centres must consider whether and when coronavirus-specific risk assessments are required by law and continue to comply with Welsh Government advice and guidance. Should any questions arise, the Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works and W.Bro. Alan Gardener, PSGD, PastAPGM can be contacted in the usual way.
I hope that you will enjoy the remainder of the summer recess, with our first Craft and Royal Arch Installations due to take place on 1 September 2021.
Provincial Grand Secretary/Scribe E.
1 Coronavirus Control Plan: Alert Level Zero (July 2021), Welsh Government