Latest Government advice with respect to gatherings for worship in SA
As you will have heard, the Federal Government has relaxed some restrictions regarding places of worship.
Here is the link to the latest SA Government advice in relation to Funerals, Places of Worship and Weddings. Please follow this advice to the letter: https://www.covid-19.sa.gov.au/recovery
From 11 May 2020, the maximum number of mourners that is allowed to attend is 20 if the funeral is held indoors, and 30 if it is held outdoors. This excludes those officiating the funeral, and other staff necessary to facilitate the funeral.
This is an increase on the maximum numbers that applied prior to 11 May (previously the numbers were 10 indoors and 15 people outdoors). While more people will be allowed to attend funerals, the density requirement and social distancing principles continue to apply.
No food or beverages are to be provided for consumption.
Attendee records must be kept, including each attendee’s contact details, to assist with contact tracing if required. These may be requested by an Authorised Officer. The form will be available for download at www.sa.gov.au.
Worship, weddings and ceremonies
Commencing from 11 May 2020, up to 10 guests can attend. This is excluding the celebrant and any staff necessary to facilitate the event.
This is an increase on the previous maximum number of people (which was 5 in total).
No food or beverages are to be provided for consumption.
Places of worship
From 11 May 2020, places of worship are allowed to open to the public for religious gatherings, private worship or small religious ceremonies, provided that the following requirements and recommendations are observed. Places of worship:
- Limit the number of people on site to 1 person per 4 square metres (density requirement)
- Restrict the number of congregants to a maximum of 10 attendees
- Observe, and encourage, social distancing (1.5 metres rule)
- Facilitate good hand and respiratory hygiene, including by offering hand sanitiser at entrance and exit
- Frequently clean and disinfect facilities
- Keep records of attendees, including names and contact details, to assist with contract tracing if required
- Implement signage to support compliance with current restrictions and advice
Larger services (including organised and/or scheduled services) continue to be prohibited. However, recording or live streaming remains an option.
Observing the density requirement (1 person per 4 square metres)
There must be no more than one person per four square metres on site at any time.
The maximum number of people allowed on site can be calculated by dividing the total area by four.
Limiting gatherings to 10
Religious gatherings, private worship or small religious ceremonies of up to 10 attendees are allowed. Those officiating or required for administrative purposes are in addition to the 10 attendees, although this number should be limited as much as possible.
Observe, and encourage attendees to adhere to, social distancing principles, requiring everyone (other than members of the same household) to maintain at least 1.5 metres physical distance between one another. Depending upon the layout, it might be possible to move furniture/seating or to provide floor markings to encourage adherence to this rule.
Good hand and respiratory hygiene
Adopt, and encourage adoption of, good hand and respiratory (coughing and sneezing) hygiene practices. It is recommended that hand sanitiser be offered at entrance and exit.
Environmental disinfection cleaning of the premises
Ensure frequent environmental cleaning and disinfection is undertaken in line with health advice available from SA Health and the Australian Department of Health.
Keeping a record of attendees
It is recommended to keep a record of the names and contact details of each attendee, to assist with contact tracing if required.
To support compliance with current restrictions and advice, it is advisable to implement signage to inform patrons of restrictions, recommendations and health advice. Where appropriate, floor markings can help to remind users of social distancing.
A final word…
The above advice is for the first relaxation of restrictions. All being well in a month’s time things may open up further. It would be good for pastors and leaders to begin preparing for each potential stage.
Please be patient with respect to Holy Communion, both in worship centres and as part of pastoral care visits in homes. The College of Bishops are discussing possible safe ways of celebrating Holy Communion. Leaders of Christian Churches in SA are also likely to seek advice from the Chief Medical Officer. It is important for health reasons alone that we act consistently and with the support of the health experts. As you know they are still very cautious as we begin to interact in groups once again. You will note that with respect to the government advice relating to both weddings and funerals no food or beverages are to be served, so you can see we need to be cautious and responsible as congregations before proceeding with Holy Communion. Please wait for further advice.
As Churches we thank God that our government has our welfare at heart. We recognise that we have in our midst a large number of people in the “higher-risk’ demographic. We are grateful that we can begin planning to meet each other face to face again, but initially in very small gatherings, and with safeguards in place. Please allow your leaders at local level and also the College of Bishops time to give you sound advice as we begin to move slowly back together again in terms of physical gatherings. We are being encouraged to take these steps but will still need to be cautious and patient along the way.
Bishop David Altus
12 May 2020
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