On May 12th the Victorian government eased some of the restrictions around COVID-19. Victorians can now have up to five visitors in their homes, and can meet in groups of up to ten outdoors. The new rules apply up to the end of May.
This means the coronavirus restrictions regarding religious ceremonies have also eased. Churches and other places of worship can now hold “private worship or small religious ceremonies” involving up to 10 people – not including the people required to run the gathering. This can be applied to events such as weddings, prayer groups and baptisms, although the restrictions around funerals are treated differently (see below).
Physical distancing rules still apply as before – that is, 1.5m between attendees and the 4sqm per-person rule on the premises.
You should also take note that there is an additional requirement of religious ceremonies – which is to keep records of the contact details of each attendee. This is to assist in contact tracing if required.
More people are allowed at funerals than at weddings. 20 people (max) can attend an indoor funeral, and up to 30 if held outdoors. These numbers do not include funeral operators.
Faith centres can hold several of these types of gatherings on the same day. However to avoid crowding there should be a break of an hour or more between gatherings. You should also thoroughly clean the premises between events, and ensure that distancing rules are followed.
Home-based events such as prayer meetings or bible study groups can also take place. However no more than 5 people can attend – not including people already living in the home.
Church service live-streaming
If you wish to record and live-steam services you can have a small number people on site necessary for this – such as musicians, preacher, and equipment operators. Physical distancing applies as usual.
Charity and support services
If your church provides support services for people in need (e.g. food banks) it can still do so, as long as the 1.5m physical distancing rule is always applied.
Other general restrictions and recommendations
The state government says there are now five reasons to leave home, as long as the rules are adhered to. These reasons are for:
- shopping for food and other necessary goods and services;
- accessing medical services or providing caregiving;
- attending work or education – where you can’t do so from home;
- exercising and participating in some recreational activities; and
- visiting friends, family and loved ones.
This means that you can now pursue outdoor activities such as golf, fishing and hiking, as long as you follow the ten-person and physical distancing rules. Most indoor venues remain closed to the public however.
While restrictions have eased in Victoria and across Australia, we are still being urged to use caution. This includes continuing with handwashing and hygiene measures and avoiding going out unnecessarily. In addition, while we have more freedom to visit elderly relatives, it’s still recommended we do so very carefully.
Australia has been doing well in keeping the number of cases down. Let’s continue the good work by following the rules, using caution and common sense, and looking out for each other.
More information on coronavirus restrictions
The following links provide more info on these topics:
Other states and territories:
The rules regarding public gatherings are very similar to Victoria’s in most other states and territories. Click on the links below for more information.
- New South Wales
- South Australia
- Western Australia – restrictions of 20 attendees at religious ceremonies apply.
- Northern Territory – greater relaxation of restrictions than other regions.
Written by Tess
Tags: church event safety, health & safety