COVID-19


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

(AS AT FRIDAY 7 AUGUST, 2020)

(information will be updated as it becomes available)


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Dear Religious Leaders, 

Please find attached the latest information from the NSW Government, effective today. Click this to see What You Can & Can’t Do

Below is a summary of information relevant to religious communities available from www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19   


Religious gatherings and places of worship
The number of people in a public place of worship must not exceed 100 people, subject to the 4 square metre square rule. The maximum applies to the whole of the venue, even where men and women worship in separate areas. The venue must also have a COVID-19 safety plan and be registered as a COVID Safe venue to keep staff, volunteers and visitors safe.

The maximum number of people at a religious service wherever held must not exceed 100 people, subject to the 4 square metre rule.

Services can be streamed or recorded to enable people to engage in worship.

People attending a religious service will be required to provide their name and contact details when they enter so that they can be used for contact tracing.

Develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan for your church, meeting house, mosque, synagogue, temple or another place of worship to help your community connect safely.


LATEST HEALTH ADVICE update from NSW Health ON SINGING IN CHURCHES – 

for the full document click here

Can I sing in a group?
There is evidence to suggest that group singing (for example in a band, choir or karaoke) is a higher risk activity due to the increased chance of spreading COVID-19 through airborne aerosols.

For this reason, NSW Health recommends at this time that group singing be avoided. Consider having one singer rather than a group. Solo singers should stay at least 3 meters from the audience when singing.

Can I play my musical instrument in a group or orchestra?
NSW Health recommends at this time that playing wind instruments (such as flute, oboe or clarinet) in a group be avoided. This is because of the increased chance of spreading COVID-19 through airborne aerosols.

Musicians playing other instruments should stay 1.5 metres away from each other

Can I sing at church, funerals or weddings?
Group singing or chanting in religious services, including choirs and during a service, is particularly high risk given the high risk of transmission associated with these activities and should not take place at this time. This applies to both the congregation and the choir.

If singing is a critical element in for example a religious service, wedding or funeral, it is recommended that the number of people singing is kept to one and a microphone is used to increase volume rather than projection of the voice.

This is particularly important at this time as NSW responds to a number of COVID outbreaks in NSW, including those in places of worship
.

The Public Health Order, amended on 24 July 2020, requires high risk settings for transmission, including places of worship, to register themselves as COVID-Safe with the NSW Government, and to comply with a COVID-19 Safety Plan. To register your church click here. This includes following guidelines around avoiding group singing or chanting. Read more at Industry guidelines for COVID Safe workplaces – Places of worship click here

We also received the 

LATEST HEALTH ADVICE ON MASKS – 

for the full document click here

The NSW Government is strongly encouraging greater use of masks in high-risk public settings to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The advice from the NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant specifically recommends:
– The use of face masks in indoor settings where physical distancing is hard to maintain, such as on public transport or in supermarkets
– The use of face masks (where practical) in indoor settings with a higher risk of transmission, such as for the staff of hospitality and customer-facing venues i.e. cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs
– During attendance at places of worship

Wearing a mask in any of these settings is not mandatory but is highly recommended, especially in areas where there has been community transmission.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said a mask is not a substitute for physical distancing.

“People should continue to maintain their physical distance – it is our most effective weapon. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you can’t maintain your physical distance you should wear a mask,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“It is critical the community understands masks should be used in conjunction with other measures, and not as a standalone measure.”  

Masks should be considered a “fourth line of defence” after staying home if unwell and getting tested, maintaining 1.5-metre social distancing and good hand hygiene.

It is imperative the community understands if they have symptoms they should immediately be tested and self-isolate.

The use of properly constructed cloth masks is acceptable. However, it’s important they are:
– Ideally made from three layers of breathable fabric to ensure adequate protection; and
– Washed after each use or at least daily.

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said masks are not suitable for everyone such as young children.

“Currently in NSW, the rate of community transmission does not call for mandatory mask use in the general population,” Dr Chant said.

“However, along with practising good hand-hygiene, people are encouraged to wear face masks particularly in indoor settings where physical distancing is hard to maintain, such as on public transport. Most of all, stay home if you are unwell.

“NSW Health is continuing to monitor the situation and provide timely advice to the Government on the best defence against this once-in-a-100-year pandemic.”


For more information please go to nsw.gov.au/covid-19/face-masks

For a summary of information relevant to religious communities click here


Places of Worship Safety Plan


Develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan for your church, meeting house, mosque, synagogue, temple or another place of worship to help your community connect safely.

We would like to reiterate the current advice from NSW Health regarding hygiene and cleaning:

  • Adopt good hand hygiene practices.
  • Ensure bathrooms are well stocked with hand soap and paper towels or hand dryers.
  • Consider modifying religious rites or rituals to avoid direct contact where practical. Where this is not practical, ensure hands are washed before and after each interaction with soap and water or hand sanitiser.
  • Avoid sharing books, drinking cups or other shared objects used during the service such as collection plates. Also consider putting barriers around frequently touched objects of worship, such as shrines, relics or fonts, to prevent people frequently touching these.
  • Clean frequently used indoor hard surface areas (including children’s play areas) at least daily with detergent or disinfectant. Clean frequently touched areas and surfaces several times per day.
  • Disinfectant solutions need to be maintained at an appropriate strength and used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Staff are to wear gloves when cleaning and wash hands thoroughly before and after with soap and water.

Detailed health advice for places of worship including a checklist and COVID-19 safety plan can be found here.


Funerals, memorial services and wakes


The maximum number of people who may attend a funeral or memorial service or a gathering following a funeral or memorial service, is the lesser of one person per 4 square metres or 100 people.

Places of public worship can have up to 100 people subject to the 4 square metre rule and must be registered as a COVID Safe venue. Funeral homes and crematoria must also be registered as a COVID Safe business.

Funerals at a place of residence are limited by the 20 person visitor rule.

People attending the service will be required to supply their name and contact details so that they can be used for contact tracing.

Read common questions about attending funerals, memorial services and wakes.


Weddings


The maximum number of people who may attend a wedding or a gathering following a wedding service cannot be greater than 150 people subject to the 4 square metre rule and registration as a COVID-Safe business.

If the wedding takes place in a place of worship, the number of people attending must not exceed 100 people, subject to the 4 square metre rule.

People attending will be required to provide their name and contact details so that they can be used for contact tracing.


Community centres, halls and education programs


Comply with COVID-19 Safety Plan requirements to keep staff, volunteers and visitors safe. 

Ensure capacity does not exceed one visitor per 4 square metres of space (excluding staff).

Ensure indoor group activities have no more than 20 participants, plus the instructor or facilitator and any assistants, per space that complies with one person per 4 square metres. There may be multiple classes in a room if there is sufficient space to accommodate this and the classes remain separate. Participants should maintain 1.5 metres physical distance where practical.


Updated information and advice about COVID-19 in NSW, see nsw.gov.au/covid-19 and to access translated materials follow this link.

Updated August 7, 2020