Q. The suspension ends on 17 July 2020, does that mean my Unit has to resume meetings ?
A. No. The decision to relax the suspension simply creates the right environment in which individual Units and Masonic Centres can begin their preparations to resume meetings but that will take longer in some cases than in others.
Q. What happens if my Unit is unable to hold its next regular meeting after the suspension ends e.g. because the meeting venue remains closed/members don’t want to attend ?
A. The Secretary of the Unit should issue a Summons in the usual way but as the meeting cannot take place, it should be declared abandoned and the following note made in the Minute Book: ‘the Regular Meeting of the Lodge on [insert date] was duly called but abandoned due to the incidence of coronavirus’.
Q. Once the suspension has ended, can my Unit hold an additional meeting before the next regular meeting to deal with any outstanding business ?
A. Yes. As a rule, the Worshipful Master (or equivalent) has the power to summon an Emergency Meeting to attend to specific business. You should refer to the Constitutions & Regulations of the Order for further guidance.
Q. Does my Unit need permission to start meeting again after the suspension has ended ?
A. No. The Unit simply reverts to its normal pattern of meetings as provided for in its By-Laws.
Q. Will the virtual business meeting scheme still be available to Units unable to meet in the short term ?
A. Yes. The scheme has been extended to the end of this year but will be subject to regular reviews to assess its continuing usefulness. In all cases, Units wishing to hold such a meeting must seek permission from the Provincial Grand Master (or equivalent) before proceeding to issue a Paper of Business.
Q. What happens if my local area is subject to lockdown in the future ?
A. There may be instances when specific areas are locked down to control a localised spike in Covid-19 infections. Where this happens, it will be the responsibility of the Provincial/District Head of Order (in conjunction with the Grand Secretary) to decide what action should be taken relating to Masonic Units.
Q. Will Units be permitted to work ceremonies when meetings resume ?
A. Yes, but only ceremonies to admit Candidates (e.g. Advancement, Elevation, Induction etc.) and install the Worshipful Master (or equivalent) will be permitted for the time being. Guidance notes detailing Covid-19 adaptations to these ceremonies will be issued by the end of July.
Q. UGLE has permitted Craft Lodges and Royal Arch Chapters to hold Lodges of Instruction using video conference platforms. Are there any plans by MMH to do the same ?
A. Yes. The accompanying guidance note confirms that Units are permitted to do this with immediate effect.
Q. The latest guidance states that festive boards cannot be held after meetings. How long will this be the case ?
A. The legal position on dining after a masonic meeting suggests that it may be unlawful at the present time. In the circumstances, we have decided to ban all dining after masonic meetings, but the situation is under constant review and our guidance will be updated as soon as there is any change.
Q. Several of the Orders administered from Mark Mason’s Hall have Grand Investiture meetings scheduled for the autumn. Will these meetings go ahead ?
A. The decision whether to hold these meetings will be determined by the prevailing government guidance. Unless the government significantly increase or remove the cap on indoor gatherings and dining, it is likely that these meetings will not go ahead. However, as soon as a decision is made in each case, you will be notified.
Q. What is the position regarding handshakes when meetings resume ?
A. All physical contact should be avoided, including handshakes.
Q. Should I wear a face mask and gloves when attending a Masonic meeting ?
A. Government guidance on the wearing of face masks is changing and you must act in accordance with the advice applicable to the country in which you live. In the notice confirming the relaxation of the General Suspension, we stated that face masks may be worn when attending masonic meetings, but surgical gloves should not. In those Orders where fabric or leather gloves form part of the regalia, these may be worn.
Q. The latest guidance states that there should be no singing at meetings until further notice. Why is this ?
A. The World Health Organisation recently confirmed the results of its research which suggest that coronavirus is transmitted through airborne droplets. By placing a ban on singing for the time being, we are reducing the risk of infection in confined spaces such as Lodge Rooms.
Q. Finance is a concern for many Brethren. Is Mark Masons’ Hall planning to make a statement about Annual Dues etc. as UGLE has done ?
A. Yes. An announcement of our plans relating to Fees and Dues will be made soon.
Q. The venue where my Unit meets is closed for the time being and I need to issue a Summons for the next regular meeting before it re-opens ?
A. Where this is the case, the Summons should be issued stating the usual meeting place. The fact that the venue is closed will require the meeting to be abandoned with a suitable note being place in the Minute Book of the Unit.
Q. Will the fact that my Unit has not met during the period of the suspension affect its record of continuous working ?
A. No. The records of our Orders will reflect the special circumstances that have prevailed during the period of the suspension and all Units unable to meet during that time will be treated as having continuous working provided the correct recording of virtual/abandoned meetings in the Minute Book has been observed.
R.W.Bro. Ryan A Williams, P.G.J.W.
17th July 2020
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