Frequently asked questions
On this page we provided responses to questions being asked frequently in the Diocese about our response to COVID19.
Return to Church
What are the current restrictions on the number of worshippers allowed on site at one time for a Church Service?
Changes from 24 July 2020 have introduced a cap on the maximum number of persons that can be on site. To determine the number of persons allowed on site at one time, you will need to apply the 4 square metre rule. Noting that the maximum number of persons on site must not exceed 100. Where you are considering a change in the number of worshippers on site, you must contact the Diocesan Risk Officer Heidi Randle via firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm that the space will allow for this change.
What areas do I include in my measurements when calculating the maximum number of people that can be on site?
To work out the maximum number of people allowed on your premises at any one time, use the relevant calculation for the size of your floor space:
- Premises up to 200 square metres in total; include the whole area in your calculation.
- Premises more than 200 square metres in total; only include publicly accessible areas in your calculation.
Note: the maximum number of persons on site must not exceed 100 for funerals and services and 150 for weddings.
What is the COVID-19 Safety Plan?
In accordance with NSW Public Health Order (No 4) 2020, it is expected that places of worship will implement and comply with a COVID-19 Safety Plan to keep staff, volunteers and visitors safe. Anglican Church Newcastle utilises the Safe Return to Church Framework as the safety plan. The Re-opening Application Form is the site specific plan for church buildings. This should be maintained as a current document and any changes to it notified to the Diocesan Office.
What are the current booking and registration guidelines a Parish must follow for Church services?
The Incumbent and Churchwardens may resolve that the Parish will not have a registration process prior to church services, however you are still required to request that people provide their contact details prior to entry on the day of the service. The Parish will need to have clear arrangements for advising attendees of any changes to the Conditions of Entry and for denying entry to the church when the maximum attendance is reached. Any Parish dispensing with a registration processes must also advise the Diocesan Risk Officer.
What do I do if someone arrives at Church who has not booked in to attend the Service?
For Parishes who continue to have a booking/registration process, it is possible that you may have somebody arrive on site that has not booked in for the service. Providing that the space available within your building allows for their admission and they are aware of the Conditions of Entry, they will be able to attend.
Please note that you must have a process in place to capture this person’s name and contact number for contact tracing purposes. You must also be prepared to advise them that they cannot attend if they do not meet the COVIDSafe requirements.
Is it safe to have contractors come onsite to perform work?
Where a contractor is to come on site to perform work the Parish must take steps to ensure that as part of the induction process they make the contractor aware of the Conditions of Entry. Steps must also be taken to record details of these persons and also ensure that any areas used are cleaned following the normal processes at the end of each day.
Further information on this can be located in the Fact Sheet – Third Party Contractor or Delivery of Goods.
Is it safe to receive deliveries to our Parish buildings?
Where your Parish receives regular deliveries, you should contact the supplier to request contactless deliveries and invoicing where it is practical.
What process does my Parish have to follow when hosting a Baptism?
Changes from 24 July 2020 have introduced a cap on the maximum number of persons that can be on site for a Baptism. To determine the number of persons allowed on site at one time, you will need to apply the 4 square metre rule. Noting that the maximum number of persons on site must not exceed 100.
Persons attending the service will be required to supply their name and contact number so that they can be used for contact tracing. This information will need to be retained by the parish and a copy sent through to email@example.com
Your parish must have applied to reopen the Church as part of the Safe Return to Church framework. All other measures outlined in the Safe Return to Church Framework must apply.
What process does my Parish have to follow when hosting a Wedding?
Changes from 24 July 2020 have introduced a cap on the maximum number of persons that can be on site for a Wedding. To determine the number of persons allowed on site at one time, you will need to apply the 4 square metre rule. Noting that the maximum number of persons on site must not exceed 100.
Persons attending the service will be required to supply their name and contact number so that their information can be used for contact tracing if required. This information will need to be retained by the Parish and a copy sent through to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your Parish must have applied to reopen the Church as part of the Safe Return to Church framework. All other measures outlined in the Safe Return to Church Framework must apply.
What process does my Parish have to follow when holding a Funeral Service?
In accordance with the change in restrictions, where your building is large enough to do so up to 100 people can be onsite for a funeral. When determining the maximum number of people who can attend, the Parish must apply the 4 square metre rule i.e. you must allow for at least 4 square metres per person.
For the smaller buildings, your Parish can have up to 50 people regardless of its size (without the 4 square metre rule), provided non-household contacts can maintain 1.5 metres of physical distance.
When making arrangements for funerals, your Parish must have an awareness of household and non-household groupings to facilitate the seating arrangements above. The Parish must have a clear process in place to ensure that this measure is complied with.
All persons attending the service will be required to supply their name and contact number so that their information can be used for contact tracing if required. This information will need to be retained by the Parish and a copy sent through to email@example.com.
Your Parish must have applied to reopen the Church Building as part of the Safe Return to Church framework. All other measures outlined in the Safe Return to Church Framework must apply.
Receiving Holy Communion
Aged Care Facilities
Our Parish has been contacted to re-commence pastoral visits to Aged Care Facilities. What restrictions or guidelines do we need to adhere to?
A Parish can now recommence on site services and pastoral visits to an Aged Care Facility where requested by the Aged Care Facility. Anyone attending an Aged Care Facility must comply with the facilities’ screening requirements and ensure compliance with the Diocese’s Safe Return to Church Framework.
What are the current restrictions on return travelers from Victoria?
Following the increase in COVID-19 cases in Victoria, the Diocesan Office has made an update to the Conditions of Entry requirements for our sites. This change restricts the entry of those persons who have returned from Victoria within the last 14 days. This signage should be placed at the entry of all buildings with details of this change communicated to all persons that we expect to have come on site.
COVID-19 testing, symptoms and response
When should our clergy, employees or volunteers get tested for COVID-19?
NSW Health recommends that anyone with symptoms should come forward for COVID-19 testing.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- fever (37.5 °C or higher)
- sore/scratchy throat
- shortness of breath
- loss of smell or,
- loss of taste.
Locations of COVID-19 clinics can be found on the NSW Health website or by contacting your GP office.
The Diocese has obtained agreement with the Anglican Savings and Development Fund for a loan to meet operating expenses during COVID-19. This loan will be paid by withdrawing diocesan and parish trust funds when the COVID-19 emergency is over.
It is important that the diocese and the parishes are prudent and limit expenses as much as possible. This will limit the amount of the loan.
Parishes have been asked to pay as much as they can each month to the Diocese towards the costs they Diocese carries on behalf of the parish (such as stipends, superannuation and insurance). Parishes have been asked to encourage parishioners to move to direct deposit giving, and many are doing this. They have also been asked to limit expenditure. Approval is required for payments over $2500 from the Diocesan Chief Executive.
Parish Council Treasurers have been helping greatly by providing accurate information promptly.
The Diocesan Office is not filling vacant staff roles and is looking to minimise costs wherever possible.
A process has begun as a collaboration between the diocese and parishes to see whether it is appropriate for staff to move to reduced hours, take leave or be stood down. There is much care and prayer being exercised in that work.
Synod meeting and Parish Annual Meetings
When we are able to hold parish annual meetings again under public health restrictions, the Bishop will issue a new mandate for the election of Synod representatives. A session of the new Synod will be held around 2 months after that for at least key business, the reception of 2019 reports and elections. At this stage there is nothing in the Australian Government COVIDSAFE framework which will enable a group the size of Synod meeting.
The Diocesan Council meets on a regular basis, usually monthly. The Bishop can convene a meeting of the Diocesan Council at short notice. The Diocesan Council is meeting via Zoom.
Financial oversight and planning is undertaking by the Board of the Newcastle Anglican Church Corporation. It normally meets monthly but has met more frequently during the COVID-19 emergency. It is also meeting via Zoom.
The Diocesan Council has passed a range of interim emergency measures during the COVID-19 emergency to enable the good governance of the Diocese.
The vast majority of Diocesan Office staff are able to undertake their work from home. The opportunity to return to the Diocesan Office is under regular review. You can contact the Diocesan Office on work days (02) 4926 3733 firstname.lastname@example.org.
This page was last updated 23rd July 2020