Churches may remain closed until vaccination rate milestone of 80% is reached
When the vaccination milestone of 80% of the population is reached churches will not be required to check the vaccination status of people who attend. Prior to that it is a requirement under the public health orders that we do not permit a person to enter if they are not fully vaccinated.
The 80% milestone is expected to be reached to enable opening on Monday 25 October 2021. It will no longer be a responsibility of churches to check vaccination status at that time.
Churches that open must have arrangements to check the vaccination status of people attending church and decline entry to people who are not vaccinated
I encourage you to be in touch with your people and advise them of the legal expectation being placed on churches and to request them to attend online church if they are not fully vaccinated.
Churches that open will need a duly delegated person to check the vaccination status of each person prior to admission.
We are not expecting any issues but It is important to remember that legally the right of a person (whether or not they are a member of this Church) to attend Public Worship or otherwise participate in the activities of a parish or parish organisation is subject to a licence between the Trustees, the Bishop and the person. This provides the legal basis for a Parish Official to direct the person to leave and not re-enter any land associated with the parish for a period up to eight (8) calendar days.
The names of people undertaking this ministry of checking and admitting people should be recorded in the service register. If any difficulties arise the Police should be called.
Again, we are not expecting any issues but we have to prepare carefully.
Churches that open must comply with the following requirements
We are obliged to limit the maximum number of persons permitted on church premises calculated in the following way (based on all areas of the premises open to the public) –
• Indoor areas—1 person per 4 square metres of space
• Outdoor areas—1 person per 2 square metres of space
Those engaged in work on a premises (including the clergy, servers, a small group of musicians and tech operators) are not included in the count.
Covid Safety Plans are required for Places of Public worship and for “religious events”. You should give careful attention to ensuring good ventilation of spaces being used.
A person who is over 12 years of age must wear a fitted face covering while the person is in an indoor area of church premises.
Singing is not permitted.
The Common Cup is not permitted while singing is not permitted. A chalice should be used symbolically with the wine consumed by the priest.
All other parish activities (hospitality, op shops etc) can open under the same strict admission requirements.
I strongly urge parishes when they reopen to take a graded and slow approach to reopening. While there may be some sense of pressure explicit or implicit to return to every activity as it was prior to lockdown, there is still much variability around us.
Finally, thinking about Christmas. I know that Advent is a vital season of anticipating the return of our Lord. However, the community will be feeling a sense of relief and looking to reengage through positive experiences. I am comfortable for Christmas to be anticipated even in our morning services this year with an understanding that at another time we can return to the important eschatological teaching.