COVID-19

ADVICE FROM THE ACT GOVERNMENT TO ALL NSW RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES, CHARITIES AND PLACES OF WORSHIP  

(AS AT WEDNESDAY 16 SEPTEMBER 2020)
(information will be updated as it becomes available)


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COVID-19 restrictions for Places of Worship

In line with Step 3.1 of Canberra’s Recovery Plan minor and cautious changes are being made to the current COVID-19 restrictions in the ACT. Subject to a successful public health risk assessment (check point), from 9am on Friday 18 September 2020 the following changes will apply:

  • Smaller sized venues, facilities and businesses can return to their pre-COVID capacity, with a maximum of 25 people (excluding staff) across the whole venue. Venues must still abide by their standard occupancy loading and regulatory conditions of the venue.
  • Businesses that want to have more than 25 people in their venue must apply the ‘one person per 4 square metres of usable space’ rule. The maximum number of patrons permitted is 100 for each indoor space and each outdoor space. No modifications can be made to venues.
  • Usable space is defined in the Public Health Direction as the space that people can freely move around in, but not including the following areas:
    • stages and similar areas,
    • restrooms, change rooms and similar areas,
    • areas occupied by fixtures, fittings, and displays, and
    • staff only areas and areas that are closed off or not being used.
  • All venues, facilities and businesses must clearly display occupancy allowance at the entrance to the venue and each individual usable space, where separate spaces exist.
  • Where relevant, specific business categories are required to develop and follow a COVID Safety Plan.
  • Where relevant, specific business categories are required to request and keep contact information from patrons and visitors. Businesses might like to consider using the Check In CBR app to assist them in fulfilling this requirement.

Hints on how to prepare your business, venue or facility for this change are available in our How to manage patron numbers under 25 person rule fact sheet.


What will stay the same:

  • All previous requirements under Step 3.1 remain in place, in particular:

    • No limit on household visits.
    • Venues, facilities and businesses must develop and follow a COVID Safety Plan.
    • The limit on the number of people allowed at outdoor gatherings remains at 100 people.

Guidance for compliance with Direction

  • Need to manage ingress and egress and flow of people throughout the venue.
  • Avoid use of collection plates and other shared equipment during services.
  • Limit use of books, if possible.  If not possible ensure these are cleaned after use.
  • There should be 1.5 metres between each group in a service.
  • Church leaders and others involved in the service to be kept to a minimum and to be physically distanced from congregation.
  • If choirs are performing to congregations, they are to remain at least 2 metres away from the congregation and those involved in the service.
  • Try to keep to a minimum number of musicians in each service, and they should remain physically distanced from the congregation or audience. There should also be a minimum of 1.5 metres of distance between each band member.
  • Increased frequency of cleaning of high touch areas and restroom facilities.

Ongoing compliance activity:

  • Compliance with the current Public Health Direction is critical in supporting community safety. Access Canberra, the Health Protection Service and ACT Policing continue to undertake proactive checks at businesses to support compliance and community safety against the current Public Health Direction.
  • Non-compliance with the public health directions can result in regulatory action and serious penalties may apply.

Guidance, next steps, where to get more information:

  • The Access Canberra Business Liaison Team is available to answer questions or provide advice. The team can be reached on (02) 6205 0900.

It’s important to note that these changes do not take effect until 9am on 18 September 2020. Until this time, the existing Public Health Direction remains in effect and businesses, industry and community must comply with that direction.

Your ongoing cooperation and proactive compliance with the Public Health Direction is greatly appreciated as we work to support our community’s safety and Canberra’s recovery from COVID-19.

We all need to continue to be responsible

 

Updated: Sept 16, 2020