In line with the ending of the Government lockdown the suspension of Lodge and Chapter meetings by the MW, the Grand Master, also expires. New rules and conditions are in force and meetings can resume in compliance with the new tier restrictions set out below.
The Province of West Kent falls into both Tier 2 or Tier 3. Tier 2 regulations apply to those residing in London Boroughs, and Tier 3 for those in Kent (and outside of London). Members not living within the boundaries of the Province should make themselves aware of the Tier they are in.
Tier 3 Areas
In areas falling within Tier 3 restrictions on people from separate households meeting indoors mean that in such areas Lodge and Chapter meetings cannot take place, and accordingly a suspension must be imposed. Freemasons who live in Tier 3 areas are not permitted to attend Lodge or Chapter meetings in Tier 1 or Tier 2 areas.
The consequence of suspension is that the guidance given for the four-month suspension between 17 March and 17 July and for the recent lockdown must once more be followed. In particular, there will be no need to issue a summons for a meeting that falls within the period of the suspension. For the avoidance of doubt this applies to all Lodges and Chapters that meet at Dartford, Edenbridge, Greenhithe, Sevenoaks, Tunbridge Wells, Wilmington and Wrotham.
Tier 2 Areas
For Masonic Centres within Tier 2, Lodge and Chapter meetings are permitted by the new law as “permitted organised gatherings”. The Rule of 6 applies, excluding the Tyler. On application dispensation may be considered for meetings in other (legitimate) Tier 2 premises; meetings are not now permitted in private houses.
People who organise meetings, as well as those who manage the Masonic Centres, are obliged to conduct a risk assessment meeting certain criteria; and take all reasonable steps to minimise the risk of transmission of the virus, having regard to their risk assessment and to relevant government guidance. The Tier 2 Lodges and Chapters in West Kent are those that meet in Bromley, Chislehurst, Sidcup and Welling.
Summonses are required for Tier 2 Lodge and Chapter meetings and should be forwarded to members and to the Provincial Office.
It is acknowledged that many members may still not feel confident to resume attending meetings. If, when the Summons has been issued it becomes clear to the Secretary / Scribe E that the number of apologies is such that a quorum will be unattainable, to avoid unnecessary journeys he should inform the Brethren / Companions accordingly. Then at the moment the Lodge / Chapter is due to be opened and not before, he may presume a lack of a quorum and treat the meeting as abandoned.
Lodges and Chapters may still give notice to the ProvGM (via the ProvGSec) of the intention to voluntarily suspend their meetings for a period of not more than three months (details previously circulated). Once suspended there is no requirement to send a Summons during that period.
Should the Government amend the Tier system, or the boundaries, members must abide by those rules and regulations pertaining to their residential address.
Brethren and Companions, I fully recognise that many of rules now differ from those previously issued. If you are in any doubt about the logistics of holding a meeting you should in the first instance contact the Masonic Centre to establish if it is likely to be in a position to entertain you. For all other enquiries please email the Provincial Office.