As a consequence of the current Coronavirus outbreak, last week I received a large number of emails and telephone enquiries questioning why the Provincial Grand Master (or Provincial Grand Secretary) had not closed centres or ordered a suspension of Lodge meetings. My response then was that there was nothing in the Book of Constitutions which gave that authority.
The Grand Registrar has confirmed that the Grand Master, and only the Grand Master, may issue a General Suspension of Masonic Activity, but will not do so until such time as advised it will have the most protective effect for members.
Yours sincerely and fraternally,
Provincial Grand Secretary
On a related note, the following statement was issued by the Grand Secretary:
UPDATE ON CORONAVIRUS TO MEMBERS FROM UGLE – 16 March 2020
There appears to be confusion (and a certain amount of conflicting advice being given either by Provincial/District authorities or by well-meaning individuals via social media or the internet) about the steps to be taken in relation to scheduled meetings during the Coronavirus pandemic.
For the avoidance of doubt, unless and until there is a general suspension by the MW The Grand Master of Lodge and Chapter meetings, Secretaries and Scribes E should continue to issue a summons for each meeting – preferably by e-mail. While it would not be appropriate to forbid Lodges or Chapters from holding a meeting on a bare quorum, it is strongly recommended that Secretaries and Scribes E collect apologies from all or a majority of the members in order to establish in advance of the meeting that it will be necessary for it to be abandoned. The appropriate statement (shown below) should then be entered in the Minute Book:
“The regular meeting of the Lodge on …. day …. March, 2020 was duly called in accordance with the attached summons. Owing to the incidence of the coronavirus the required number of Brethren to open the Lodge could not be assembled and the meeting was abandoned.”
“The regular convocation of the Chapter on …..day …. March, 2020 was duly called in accordance with the attached summons. Owing to the incidence of the coronavirus the required number of Companions to open the Chapter could not be assembled and the convocation was abandoned.”
To be clear, Secretaries and Scribes E may abandon meetings if they receive apologies from enough members to make the meeting inquorate. They may state that they will assume apologies from those who have not responded to them.
Guidance will be issued in due course as to how, once meetings are resumed, Lodges and Chapters should deal with business that could not be transacted during the pandemic.
Dr David Staples FRCP
CEO and Grand Secretary