All this is subject to Government restrictions on numbers of people who may gather together and the meeting places being ‘Covid secure’
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Yes, since the communication from our Grand Lodges is in effect a Dispensation that enforces a suspension of all masonic activities, Lodge Secretaries and Scribes are advised to place a copy of the suspension instruction from Grand Lodge / Provincial Grand Lodge into their Lodge Minute book.
When the suspension ends, a further letter will be circulated informing Brethren that meetings can resume. A copy of this letter should be entered into the Minute Book and the Lodge can resume its meetings in accordance with its By Laws. If at this point a Lodge feels there is enough of a backlog of work to require additional meeting(s) this can be dealt with in an Emergency Meeting(s) for which a dispensation is required.
Some Brethren have asked whether individuals who have not been vaccinated will be allowed to attend physical meetings when they resume. Introducing any form of restriction based on vaccination status would place an undue burden on Lodges and may prove difficult to police.
It is the responsibility of every Brother to ensure that he only attends meetings if he is free of Covid-19 symptoms and, having regard to his general health, deems it appropriate and safe to do so.
All Lodges shall be permitted to return to meeting as normal.
Lodges that cannot resume meeting because the members have indicated they do not wish to do so at this time or are prevented from doing so because their meeting place is not open, may continue to make use of the Virtual Business Meeting scheme until it is possible to recommence physical meetings. The scheme remains in place and will be kept under review to assess its continuing usefulness.
It is not yet clear what restrictions or government guidance will replace existing measures but as soon as these are known, we will issue an update.
All Lodges are expected to hold an Installation/Proclamation Ceremony at their first physical (face-to-face) meeting following the recommencement of Masonic meetings. This is an opportunity to ratify any decision for a Master (or equivalent) to stay in the Chair for a further term, or to elect someone else so as not to further disadvantage those already progressing within the Lodge. This is a particular consideration where the date of Installation may have an impact on eligibility for Provincial/Grand Rank or equivalent.
Following this an Installation Return should be completed in the usual way.
If the decision is taken to change the Master (or Commander) but the term he would serve would be considerably shorter than 12 months – because of the proximity to the next regular Installation meeting – it should be emphasised that there is an expectation that he would then be Proclaimed for a further term at the next regular Installation meeting, for him to enjoy a full calendar year of meetings.
The Master (or Commander) must have been elected within 12 months of the Installation/Proclamation meeting. If this has not been done an Emergency Virtual Business meeting can be held to do so. A Provincial Dispensation will be required to hold such a meeting.
If it has not been possible to elect the Master (or Commander) or the election ballot was held more than 12 months ago, you can elect and Install at the same meeting using the Elect and Install Dispensation facility on Keystone Online (Contact the Provincial Secretary for Advice). ProvGSec@westyorksmark.org.uk
The period of Mastership is calculated from one physical (face-to-face)Installation/Proclamation Ceremony to the next, which may well be more than 12 calendar months under current circumstances.
A Dispensation for a third consecutive year in the Chair is only required where the serving Master (or Commander) has been regularly Installed at a face-to-face meeting, proclaimed for a second consecutive year at another face-to-face meeting, and now awaits proclamation for a further, third, year.
The Dispensation for a third term will be free of charge provided the need is due to Covid related circumstances.
Any ballot conducted more than twelve months ago is considered ‘stale’ and should not be relied upon. Where this is the case, the ballot should be taken again in the usual way before the admission of candidates, joining/re-joining members, or the installation of a Master (or Commander).
At an emergency meeting it is only permissible to conduct the business precisely listed on the agenda (e.g. there is no accommodation for items such as ‘any other business’) and such agenda items cannot include anything that the Constitutions & Regulations state must be carried out at a regular meeting.
In many cases, it may be more practical to postpone a regular meeting instead Dispensation from the Province. (The restriction on the timeframe for postponing a regular meeting specified in the Constitutions & Regulations having been removed due to the ‘special circumstances’ of Covid-19).
If using the postponed meeting option, that meeting may only be a postponement of the last scheduled regular meeting, as specified in the By-Laws, and it must be held prior to the next regular meeting.
If a Virtual Business Meeting (VBM) was held in lieu of that last scheduled regular meeting, then it would not be permissible to include any business already transacted at that VBM.
(Contact the Provincial Secretary for Advice). ProvGSec@westyorksmark.org.uk
We hope a more familiar Masonic dining structure may resume when Step 4 of the Government’s roadmap comes into force (Currently 21 June 2021).
No Brother should feel compelled to resume attending Masonic meetings until he feels that the time and circumstances are right for him. Sufficient measures will remain in place to enable Lodges to continue meeting virtually if face-to-face meetings cannot begin until later in the year.
Subject to the government’s roadmap to exit lockdown in England remaining on track, we have sure grounds for optimism about a safe resumption of meetings, but we must remain vigilant to ensure that all necessary measures are taken to minimise the risk of infection.
Announcements about progress with the roadmap is expected later this month following which we will issue a further update to our existing guidance.