COVID-19


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

(AS AT THURSDAY 22 OCTOBER, 2020)

(information will be updated as it becomes available)


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QUICK FACT: Maximum number of people allowed

CAPACITY CHANGES: As of Friday 23 October 2020, for services apart from weddings and funerals, places of worship can have up to 300 people or one person per 4 square metres of space, whichever is less.

The maximum number of people allowed at a:

  • weddings 150 people, or one guest per 4 square metres, whichever is the lesser, may attend a wedding service in a place of public worship. Children count towards the capacity limit in places of worship.
  • funeral or memorial service 100 people, or one guest per 4 square metres, whichever is the lesser, may attend a funeral or memorial service in a place of public worship. Children count towards the capacity limit in places of worship.
  • place of public worship or religious service is the lesser of 100 people and one person per 4 square metres. 100 people, or one visitor per 4 square metres of space (excluding staff), whichever is the lesser, may attend a religious service in place of public worship.

As of Friday 23 October 2020, the maximum will be 300 people, or one visitor per 4 square metres of space (excluding staff), whichever is less.

Children count towards the capacity limit in places of worship.

More at: https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/what-you-can-and-cant-do-under-rules/four-square-metre-rule


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.


Should I carry a face mask with me at all times?

Yes. NSW Health strongly recommends you carry a clean mask with you at all times in case you find yourself in a situation where you need to wear one. This includes:

  • when you can’t maintain 1.5 metres of physical distance  from others
  • when in high-risk indoor areas such as public transport, supermarkets, shops, places of worship and entertainment venues
  • if symptoms develop while you are out of home 
  • if you are out of home and notified by NSW Health that you are a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case, including if you have visited a listed venue  and must immediately self-isolate
  • when caring for or serving vulnerable people
  • if working in a cafe, restaurant, pub, club or other high-risk indoor areas. 

Can I sing in a group?

In accordance with advice from the Chief Health Officer, NSW Health recommends the following measures for singing and chanting.

A small group of up to 5 people may sing together in a large well-ventilated (preferably outdoor) area if:

  • all singers face forwards and not towards each other 
  • have physical distancing of 1.5 metres between each other and any other performers, and 5 metres from all other people including the audience and conductor.

Ensembles and other musical groups should rehearse and perform outdoors or in large, well-ventilated indoor spaces.

Read more at Industry guidelines for COVID Safe workplaces – Places of worship.


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

Please find attached general exemption to places of worship to allow:  

  1. 150 persons to attend a wedding at a place of worship (not 100) subject to the 4 square metre rule.
  2. Clarification that separate services/activities etc can occur in separate buildings at a place of worship subject to the 100 person/4 square metre rule (150 for weddings). Note: It doesn’t allow for the two separate rooms in the same building scenario, but does allow for separate buildings on the same premise.

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

DANCING: A COVID-19 Safety plan must be in place for all weddings. On the 24 September, the Minister for Health and Medical Research announced that  dancing may take place for up to 20 people in the official wedding party. Information on COVID-19 Safety Plans for wedding ceremonies and receptions is available at Wedding ceremonies and receptions.


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