I have just received instructions from the Bishop of Blackburn that clergy are only to give out bread at communion services until further notice. A chalice will be used in the communion prayer, but only the priest will receive. This is to avoid communion becoming a means by which the flu virus is spread. There is other advice about other aspects of church life as well.
These instructions have been taken from a government document on the Communities and Local Government website called "Faith Communities and Pandemic Flu: Guidance for faith communities and local influenza pandemic committees". The hotlink is to the pdf (223kb)
The document states that the sharing of common vessels in communion and other faith communities' ceremonies should cease in a pandemic. This will be a significant shock for the vast majority of Anglicans. We are used to receiving communion "in both kinds" - i.e. bread and wine, so it will feel as if we are only half taking part. As a minister presiding at communion it will be even more strange, as we will be the only ones who receive from the cup.
One question is, of course, whether this will prove to be necessary. Other seasonal flu outbreaks have taken thousands of lives without regulations such as this being introduced. However, this is a new strain, and may take a more lethal turn if it mutates.
One solution, of course, would be to arrange for a Methodist colleague to lead a celebration of communion according to the Methodist Church order in a C of E Church (which is now allowed under the Methodist-Anglican covenant). Each communicant has a separate glass, so the common cup isn't an issue. Of course not all my C of E colleagues would find that very easy...
We must wait and see, but the strange situation is developing where a virus is affecting our freedom to worship. I suspect there will be not a few letters and emails flying in the coming days!