Bristol Zen Dojo update – reopening of the dojo
We have been operating a virtual dojo since the beginning of lockdown, but it has always been our hope that we would be able to reopen the actual dojo for practice when it was safe and practical to do so. We reopened in a limited way in September, 2020 and have since increased the number of sits to four per week
In order to operate safely, we must ensure that everyone who can attend feels safe and comfortable to do so. To achieve this we have looked at the safety and practical issues and have been guided by government guidelines. There is inevitably a lot to consider and put into effect, but we believe that with everyone helping and contributing, we should be able to resume our practice in the dojo
1. Government Guidance
The government issued guidance as follows:
“Venue managers of places of worship will have discretion over when they consider it safe to open and should decide to remain closed if they are not able to safely adhere to the guidelines … Whilst engaging in an activity in the place of worship or surrounding grounds, all parties should adhere to social distancing guidelines. 2 metres or 1 metre with actions taken to reduce the risk of transmission (where 2 metres is not viable) between households are acceptable. For example, use of face coverings.”
(COVID-19: guidance for the safe use of places of worship during the pandemic. Updated 14 August 2020)
You must stay away from the dojo if you have Covid-19 symptoms such as a temperature, persistent cough or loss of taste and smell, if you have any underlying health conditions that require you to self-isolate, OR if you have been advised to do so by NHS Test & Trace. Individuals who are shielding should continue to follow the government’s advice on shielding.
If anyone becomes unwell with symptoms of COVID-19 in a place of worship they should go home immediately and be advised to follow the stay at home guidance, which covers NHS Test and Trace.
Certain groups of people may be at increased risk of severe disease from COVID-19, including people who are aged 70 or older, regardless of medical conditions.
2. Key points for reopening the dojo safely
We have carried out a risk assessment to enable us to open in a restricted way. We hope you will bear with us as we try to make it work. This will naturally mean that certain things will have to be done differently. For example, regrettably, we will not be able to socialise at the dojo to the extent that we have previously.
We set out the key points below:
Number of people who can attend the dojo safely – observing social distancing rules, we can have a maximum of twelve people in the dojo This means that for those planning to attend we will have a booking system. This should avoid people arriving and being told there isn’t enough room. Please only book a place if you are definitely intending to come to the Dojo. If you feel you would like assistance with booking, please email us.
Bring a mask – wear your mask whenever you can’t be two metres away from people. Generally speaking, wear your mask when you are not sitting for meditation. Places for meditation will be indicated and they are distant enough from each other, so you will be able to practice without wearing a mask. We work to ventilate the dojo adequately.
Arriving and leaving – arrive at least ten minutes before zazen begins. Interactions should be at no less than two metres. Please wear a mask when entering, use hand sanitiser provided at the bottom and top of the stairs. If possible please bring your own hand sanitiser to use before and after touching items in the dojo. Please take your shoes off at the bottom of the stairs and make your way upstairs. If you use the banister, please ensure that you use sanitiser. Please avoid congregating in the stairwell. If it is busy, please wait outside until there is space to enter safely.
Changing rooms – there are two places where people can change (preferably one at a time) – the kimono store and the kitchen
Zazen – please take your seats directly, entering the dojo in a clockwise fashion, and place your zafu on the designated zafutons. If you have your own zafu, please bring it with you, or alternatively select from the zafu rack. We have modified our usual way of doing kinhin, moving in a single great square to reduce proximity.
Use of toilets – please spray clean taps, flushers and door knobs with the materials provided. Please use the hand soap, paper towels and bins provided.
Volunteers – we will request volunteers either on the day of practice or at another time to help maintain a high standard of cleanliness and hygiene to provide confidence in making the dojo a safe place to attend
Chanting and use of instruments – percussion instruments are safe to use. For chanting, one person will lead and others may chant silently, or – if wearing their mask – quietly.
Donations – There will be an electronic payment option via a QR code which will be by the donation box, and people are encouraged to use this where possible.
We look forward to seeing you again.
Rick, James, Daniel and Jovan, 26th August 2020.
Revised & updated, John B, 8th October 2021.
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