17th February 2021

Best Practice Tips for COVIDSafe Churches and Ministries


Everyone has a role to play in slowing the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
 As restrictions ease, it is even more important you take extra steps to keep each other safe.  Detailed below are recommendations from the BUV for COVIDSafe churches and ministries (subject to current restrictions). If in doubt, please ring the Victorian Coronavirus Hotline 1800 675 398 and seek advice specific to your circumstances. 


 
Be COVIDSafe 

Face masks:

  • You must carry a face mask with you at all times when you leave home, unless you have a lawful reason not to
  • Masks must be worn in indoor public spaces apart from when eating or drinking. 
  • Mandatory when inside (except in a residential home) and outdoors when cannot maintain 1.5m physical distancing (unless a lawful exemption applies).
  • If you have visitors in your home, it is strongly recommended that masks are worn during the visit.

Baptism

  • If the ceremony can be held outdoors, it should. Being outdoor reduces the risk of spreading the virus significantly 
  • If held indoor, take reasonable steps to ensure indoor space is well-ventilated 
  • Adhere to density quotient of 1 per 2sqm
  • No group limit but ensure participants/attendees are reasonably capable of maintaining a distance of 1.5m from each other
  • Ensure water is chlorinated or changed between each baptism
  • We recommend baptism by a member of the same household
  • We recommend faith leader to be wearing mask when baptising
  • Masks are dangerous when wet – participants do not need to wear mask when in water

Communion/ Food and Drinks

  • While attending a religious gathering there are steps you need to take to keep yourself and others safe including not sharing food, drink or other items
  • Food or drink can be served as part of a religious gathering or after a religious gathering. It is recommended that single use items are used to serve food or drink. It is recommended that one person serves or distributes food or drinks. For example, one person uses the urn for hot water for tea.
  • We encourage churches to engage COVIDSafe caterers for events
  • Encourage members to BYO communion
  • Consider serving prefilled communion cups or setup serving stations with servers handing out communion (wearing gloves and using tongs). Make sure servers maintain a distance of 1.5m from each other

Offering

  • Encourage online giving or direct bank transfer 
  • Avoid passing the offering bags/buckets. Position buckets in convenient places, so people can leave their offerings without touching the bags/buckets
  • Provide offering volunteers (counting and recording) with hand sanitizer and gloves (be conscious that some people are allergic to latex). Make sure counters maintain a distance of 1.5m from each other

Singing 

Singing can occur as part of a religious ceremony, wedding or funeral. Group singing is safest when the following measures are applied:

  • Singing outside or in a well-ventilated room (with windows open)
  • Physical distancing of at least 2 metres between each person while singing
  • Short performances (of less than an hour)
  • You must wear a mask when singing indoor
  • If you cannot perform your role whilst wearing a mask, you may remove it to perform.  This applies to singers or musicians of oral instruments (brass instruments for example). For those who can wear a mask during their performance, they must wear a mask.
  • Performers are recommended to be 5 metres or more from the audience and 2 metres from each other. Physical distancing is particularly encouraged for these performers who cannot wear a mask.
  • Singing softly
  • Fans, free standing or ceiling, are not recommended for use in enclosed indoor spaces for singing
  • These measures are recommended by the Victorian Government to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). 

Playgroups and Children Ministries:

  • Can be held indoors or outdoors
  • No group limits but adhere to current density quotient (not including infants under 12 months of age)
  • Practice good hygiene, frequently clean high touch areas
  • Download Getting back to playgroup guide

Facilities for Hire:

  • Facilities such as church hall can be used for other activities subject to density quotient of 1 per 2sqm
  • Commercial hirers (eg sports group) must have a COVIDSafe Plan that is specific to their industry 
  • Private hirers (eg weddings) must follow the Church’s COVIDSafe Plan (cleaning, contact tracing, CovidSafe responsible person on site during the event etc)

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