Schools and churches shut

March 25 2020

BUSINESSES, schools and even churches have been forced to close by the coronavirus outbreak.
Pubs, restaurants and cafes were among the first to be affected by social distancing rules designed to slow the spread of the disease, with some such as the Horseshoe in Downend and the Grapevine in Mangotsfield closing their doors while others ran takeaway or delivery services to keep going.
Schools in the area closed completely from the end of Friday March 20 but the area’s secondary schools, Downend School and Mangotsfield School, closed their doors two days earlier.
Libraries and public toilets have been closed by South Gloucestershire Council, which has set up a Service Disruption page on its website to keep residents up to date with the latest changes.
All leisure centres in the district had been closed, although the Sort It centre in Mangotsfield and council offices were open as the Voice went to press.
Even churches have had to close to protect congregations from the risk: Badminton Road Methodist Church was among the first to announce it had suspended all activities, including services, and while Christ Church in Downend stayed open for a few days with limited numbers of people being allowed in at a time to pray, tightening of social distancing rules resulted in the church announcing that it was closing its buildings completely to the public on March 23.
Worshippers were being advised to visit the church website at for support and advice and visit the church’s YouTube channel for services and activities.
Vicar Jo Vickery said: “It is with great sadness that we have had to take the decision not to open Christ Church Downend to the public, in view of the rapidly growing spread of the Coronavirus. We do not believe it would be responsible to do this now or in the foreseeable future.
“You will find many resources for prayer and reflection on our website and on that of the Church of England.”
Even outdoor activities were affected by the closures, with Page Park’s popular junior parkrun one of the many regular events to be suspended while restrictions are in force.
Supermarkets in the area have been reserving some hours of opening for pensioners and vulnerable customers, with Tesco doing so between 9am and 10am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the Co-op also reserving an hour from 8am-9am on Mondays to Saturdays and 10am-11am on Sundays, and Sainsbury’s opening for NHS workers only from 7.30-8am and for carers, elderly and disabled people from 8am-9am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.