Beth Messiah FAQs About Resuming In-Person Services (02/14/2021)

When and how can I register to attend?
Registration for a Shabbat Service will open on Monday's before services and run until the cap on attendees is reached, or Friday Noon.

How will BMC determine if it will meet in-person?
BMC is following the State of Ohio’s Public Health Advisory System. If Franklin County is at a Level 4/Purple, we will not be meeting in person. Why is BMC resuming in-person services when COVID-19 is still spreading? Much more is known about COVID-19 than was known at the beginning of the pandemic, such as how to limit spread and which behaviors, when safely practiced, mitigate risks of transmission. The effects of increased safety precautions in Central Ohio are seen by the fact that its counties have moved back to level 3 (red) and our county dashboards are showing declines in most vital measures. For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, R0 (the rate of transmission overall) is below 1 for more than a week. Rates of new cases are on the decline, as are hospitalizations. As multiple vaccines are released in the first half of 2021, we think that many more of us we will be able to begin to safely regather. BMC recognizes that these positive trends may reverse, and will continue to monitor them as well as the State of Ohio county-by-county risk assessments.

Why did BMC wait so long to resume in-person services?
While protecting the Beth Messiah community is a legitimate concern, BMC is part of a larger community, and as an organization within that community, we strive to be a good citizen and positive witness. Each of us has interactions outside of Beth Messiah, and even small in-person gatherings have led to spikes in transmission in larger communities. Because of this concern for the larger community, Beth Messiah’s leadership has chosen to proceed with an abundance of caution. This concern hasn’t lessened, and so we will be monitoring trends both inside and outside our community closely.


What will be the attendance at services?
At this time, attendance at services is limited to 20 people, over and above those who are leading the service. This may change over time, so please keep checking for updates. 

How is BMC ensuring physical distancing?
BMC is using every other row of seating in the Sanctuary, and is marking positions within each row for lateral spacing. Entry and exit of the sanctuary will be conducted by row. Entry will start with the first row, and exit will start with the last row.

Will I be able to take my children with me to service?
Yes, and families need to remain together during the service.

Can I sit with my family/friends?
If you’re in the same family or “bubble” as others, you’re safe to worship and pray next to them. Otherwise, please honor the physical distancing policy.

Can I volunteer to help?
Yes! We know that many of our volunteers are missing their involvement—and we miss you! While our first couple of services will be managed by our leadership so that we can practice and learn from all of our new policies and procedures, volunteers will be much needed.


What precautions is BMC taking with regards to COVID-19?

We take the safety and security of our congregation seriously. We continue to watch the situation closely and are changing plans as needed. We will continue to follow Governor DeWine’s and the Ohio Department of Health’s Guidelines for cleaning and gathering, and we will also follow physical distancing requirements. Masks that cover one’s nose and mouth are required at all times while inside the building, and recommended outside. Disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer are available just inside the door to the building. Please use these available hand sanitizers when entering and exiting the building.

Are facemasks required for worshipping in-person together?
Yes, for those ages 3 years and older. Facemasks are part of the collective effort to control spread. Science shows that the risk of spread is higher when indoors in large groups. Masks contribute to everyone’s safety. Additionally, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, backed by the Columbus City Council, and many other city locales, have made mask-wearing in public spaces a requirement. Regardless of anyone’s personal feelings about mask-wearing, we ask that you please come prepared to comply with this practice which ensures a safer worship experience for everyone. Extra masks will be available at the doors if you forget your mask. When you enter and exit, please continue to practice physical distancing.


Will coffee be served or will there be an Oneg?
No food or beverages will be available, and there will be no access to the water fountains. Please refrain from bringing food & beverages into the building.

What will the service be like?
Upon entering and leaving, we’ll ask you not to linger in the lobby, but greet one another and have longer conversations outdoors. Elbow bumps will be the new handshakes and hugs. The facemask requirements explained above will be followed. Our capacity has been adjusted to allow for physical distancing before, during, and after the service. The service will be 90–120 minutes long and will include a welcome, worship & liturgy, and a message. 


What about cleaning procedures?
Recent research indicates that COVID-19 is unlikely to be transmitted through contact with surfaces, particularly when proper handwashing and hand sanitizer usage is practiced. However we have procured supplies from the EPA’s registered disinfectants list that have been proven effective against Human Coronavirus. Along with cleaning and sanitizing high use areas (lobbies, sanctuary, and bathrooms) before each service, we will also be limiting movement within our buildings to ensure proper cleaning between services. Finally we are doing what is possible within our building to improve air circulation for all indoor spaces.