Lockdown 6.6 – roadmap out for churches

Dear brothers and sisters

We bring you some updates of information.

Roadmap general

From November 5, church ministry is going to be extra demanding and difficult. The situation of two tiers of restrictions, along with the 4sqm rule, will add burdens for the provision of services. A two-tiered system is not ideal, and we are assured it is a temporary measure, though it may last some months. However, we are glad that everyone has opportunity to attend a service and our churches can be open to all.

A distinction will be made between congregations who are all fully vaccinated, including clergy and others leading, and congregations where the vaccination status is unknown or unvaccinated. Where someone whose status is either unvaccinated or unknown attends, the lower attendance limits apply for all. Thus, vaccinated people are welcome to a service including unvaccinated or vaccination status unknown. Concurrent services are not allowed. Separate services can be held at different times and days. We are told that the Service Victoria App will be modified to record the vaccination status of a person for QR check-in purposes.

Parish Councils, with the Vicar, will need to make decisions on what services to offer and when, with effect from the 70% date (October 26) in regional Victoria and the 80% date (November 5) for greater Melbourne. We expect parishes to resume services from those respective dates, and we request that each parish offers at least one service for vaccinated people and one for anyone including the unvaccinated or vaccination status unknown, with the lower number limits, so that everyone has an opportunity to attend worship weekly. We do not want to exclude the medically vulnerable who may be reticent to gather with the unvaccinated. We do not want to exclude the unvaccinated either.

DIOCESAN COVID-19 UPDATE 22 September 2021

We do not expect parishes to resume services outdoors, though they may.

Clergy

Clergy who are medically vulnerable or who are unvaccinated will not be able to exercise full ministry. We ask those clergy to speak with their bishop as soon as possible, and their Vicar if they are not a Vicar. Those who are Vicars ought to speak also with their churchwardens. We again urge all clergy to be vaccinated. We will need to discuss how best to provide ministry for all in the times ahead.

The following details are foreshadowed but subject to change. Further details will be issued by the health and government officials in due course.

Roadmap – greater Melbourne

Stage 1: When 70% of the population over 16 years old have been fully vaccinated (approx. 26 October)
Outdoors services can be held, 4sqm rule and QR check-in apply, with a maximum of 50 people if all are fully vaccinated or a maximum of 20 people if unvaccinated or vaccination status is unknown.

Funerals can occur indoors with up to 50 people fully vaccinated or a maximum of 20 people if unvaccinated or vaccination status is unknown. In addition are those necessary to conduct the service.

Weddings can occur outdoors only. The maximum if all are fully vaccinated is 50. The maximum if unvaccinated or vaccination status is unknown is 10. In addition are the couple, celebrant and two witnesses.

Stage 2: When 80% of the population over 16 years old have been fully vaccinated (approx. 5 November)
Up to 150 people indoors, 4 sqm rule, or 500 people outdoors, 2sqm rule, fully vaccinated, can attend a service, or a maximum of 20 people indoors or outdoors if unvaccinated or vaccination status is unknown. We expect that 25 people fully vaccinated can attend a building under 100sqm.

Funerals can occur with the same restrictions as normal services, plus those required to conduct the service.

Weddings can occur with the same restrictions as normal services for those fully vaccinated. If the status is unvaccinated or unknown, the maximum is 10 people plus the couple, celebrant and two witnesses.

DIOCESAN COVID-19 UPDATE 22 September 2021

Roadmap – regional Victoria

Regional Victoria has a preliminary stage.

When 80% of the population over 16 years old have had a single dose (approx. 26 September)
Church services can have up to 20 people, 4 sqm rule, indoors or outdoors. Funerals can have up to 20 people indoors, 4 sqm rule, plus those required to conduct the service. Weddings can have up to 10 people indoors, plus the couple and celebrant.

Stage 1: When 70% of the population over 16 years old have been fully vaccinated (approx. 26 October)
Up to 30 people indoors, 4 sqm rule, or 100 people outdoors, 2sqm rule, fully vaccinated, can attend a service, or a maximum of 20 people indoors or outdoors if unvaccinated or vaccination status is unknown. We expect that 25 people fully vaccinated can attend a building under 100sqm.

Funerals can occur with up to 30 people indoors fully vaccinated or a maximum of 20 people if unvaccinated or vaccination status is unknown. In addition are those necessary to conduct the service.

Weddings can occur with up to 50 people indoors or 100 outdoors. The maximum if unvaccinated or vaccination status is unknown is 10. In addition are the couple, celebrant and two witnesses.

Stage 2: When 80% of the population over 16 years old have been fully vaccinated (approx. 5 November)
Same as greater Melbourne.

For all areas

Children
Children under 16 can attend either a vaccinated only service or an unknown status service. (This will later be reduced to children under 12 once those who are 12-16 years old are 80% fully vaccinated.)

Groups

Indoor sporting groups can resume with restrictions from Stage 2. Other groups, church groups and hirers, can resume indoors from Stage 2 with restrictions on vaccination status. Op shops can open with restrictions from Stage 2, and customers and staff do not need to be vaccinated. Home groups of up to 10 visitors could meet from stage 2, regardless of vaccination status.

DIOCESAN COVID-19 UPDATE 22 September 2021

The website for the diocesan COVID pages is here. If the question is not addressed there, please email (not text message) Bishop Paul directly: bishoppaulbarker@melbourneanglican.org.au.

Grace and peace in Christ Jesus

Archbishop Philip Freier