Christmas Season Church Safety for 2020

December 16, 2020 - 6 minutes read

It’s THAT time of year again, which always involves thinking about holiday and Christmas season safety. For 2020 however, there are a few extra things to think about

Singer with microphone and candle

Event singer

You’ve probably already heard by now that some big annual musical events such as Carols by Candlelight will be audience-free this year. State health departments are also recommending that where choir or carol singing events do take place, they do so outdoors.

There are good reasons for this. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), singing in a group (especially indoors) creates somewhat of a superspreader risk. This is because singing causes droplets and aerosol particles to travel further than regular talking would. And the louder you sing, the further the spread!

Superspreader choirs!

There have been several cases of indoor choir gatherings around the world resulting in super-fast transmission. For example, a choir practice event in the US resulted in almost everyone in the group contracting the virus from a single asymptomatic carrier. The CDC found that the infection rate was almost 126 higher for people that attended the event than for those that didn’t. And this was despite the singers avoiding the usual handshakes and hugs.

The amount of time spent with other people is also a major risk factor. The more time people are together in an enclosed space, especially if it isn’t well-ventilated, the higher the risk of transmission. In the above case, the singers practiced for 2.5 hours, which gave the virus the time it needed to do its dirty work!

It’s for this reason that going shopping or out for a walk is far less risky than a dinner party or other type of gathering. Generally speaking, when people go to a shopping centre or for a walk they are moving around and spending limited time in contact with other people. So it’s no surprise that some of the biggest outbreaks have occurred in prisons, in workplaces, and at religious ceremonies.

Speaking of religious ceremonies, here are some of the rules and recommendations for Christmas 2020 in Victoria, where restrictions were eased on 6th December.

Current COVID19 faith centre restrictions in Victoria

Gatherings:

  • Religious gatherings or ceremonies can now be held outdoors or indoors with no cap on numbers.
  • Records of attendees must be kept. The 2sqm per-person rule applies if you use electronic record-keeping. This changes to 4sqm for a manual record system.
  • All attendees should do what they can to keep themselves and others safe. This includes not sharing food or drink, regular washing or sanitising of hands, coughing / sneezing into a tissue or elbows, and wearing face masks where social distancing isn’t possible.
  • Faith and worship centres can also conduct weddings, funerals, open up for private prayer, and provide essential support services. Social distancing rules still apply.

Singing / choirs:

You can sing at a gathering, but the following guidelines apply.

  • Singing outdoors is recommended.
  • Indoor singing should be done in a well-ventilated room (such as with open windows).
  • Masks should be worn when singing indoors.
  • A distance of at least 2 metres between singers should be maintained.
  • Performances should be limited to one hour max.
  • Softer singing is recommended!
  • Use of indoor fans is not recommended.
  • Performers should stand at least 5m from the audience.

Christmas carols:

Christmas caroling is permitted, but the same guidelines apply as for singing at gatherings (above). This includes social distancing, singing outdoors where possible, wearing masks indoors, and holding short performances only.

Further reading (Vic)

Vic Govt: Religion and Ceremony COVID safety
Vic Govt: Industry Restart Guidelines for Religion and Ceremony.

Christmas season safety: other states and territories

Since the above information relates to Victoria only, you should check your own state or territory authority for the latest information (links below).

Other Christmas season safety issues

Of course, the usual safety measures apply this year as for any other year during the festive season. This includes the following.

  • Property security – such as removing valuables, locking up the building, ensuring you have good external security systems, and keeping up with maintenance.
  • Fire safety – e.g. removing combustibles, securing wheelie bins, and running an inspection on fire safety equipment.
  • Health and safety – for example securing chemical products, removing rubbish, and doing a quick hazard inspection around the property.

Further reading for more information

Security tips for holiday closures;
Protecting vacant property during shutdowns.

Check your insurance isĀ up-to-date

You should also make sure your insurance is up-to-date and adequate to cover you for potential losses. To discuss your policy, please get in contact with our office by phone or email.

Lastly, from the staff at CCI: have a Merry Christmas for 2020, and please stay safe!

Written by Tess

 

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