8th October 2021

BUV Advice on Current Government’s Restrictions

On this page, you can find information and recommendations from the BUV regarding the current Government’s restrictions.  If in doubt, please ring the Victorian Coronavirus Hotline 1800 675 398 and seek advice specific to your circumstances. Please check this page regularly for the latest updates. For Church resources and translated information, click here.

Update 17/10/21 

Source:

Premier Statement

Roadmap Update  

Restrictions from 11:59pm Thursday 21 October 2021 will change:
Metropolitan Melbourne  – Eased Restrictions

Reasons to leave home, curfew and 15 km travel radius lifted

Travel to regional Victoria is still not permitted.

Private Gathering – 10 people including dependants can visit your home per day

Public Gathering –  15 people can gather outdoors

Religious Ceremonies/Weddings/Funerals

  • 50 fully vaccinated people outdoors
  • 20 fully vaccinated people indoors subject to density limit of 1 person per 4 square metres 
  • 10 People indoors if vaccination status is unknown subject to density limit of 1 person per 4 square metres

Work

If you can work form home, you should work from home. Anyone on the authorised workers list is required to have had at least one dose in order to work onsite.

Masks are still required indoor and outdoors.

Regional Victoria – Eased Restrictions

Private Gathering – 10 people including dependants can visit your home per day

Public Gathering –  20 people can gather outdoors

Religious Ceremonies/Weddings/Funerals

  • 100 fully vaccinated people outdoors
  • 30 fully vaccinated people indoors subject to density limit of 1 person per 4 square metres 
  • 10 People indoors if vaccination status is unknown subject to density limit of 1 person per 4 square metres

Update 8/10/21

Directions in relation to mandatory vaccination of all authorised workers throughout Victoria were released yesterday, 7th October.  

Source:  www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au

Select workers (including contractors, volunteers and students on placement) will be required to show evidence of their vaccination to their employer by a certain date in order to continue working outside their home.

From 15 October 2021, in order to work onsite at a work premises, you must be able to provide evidence to your employer that you have:

  • received at least your first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, or
  • have a booking to receive your first dose by 22 October 2021, or
  • have a medical exemption evidenced by an authorised medical practitioner

This means that from 23 October 2021 onwards, you need to have received at least your first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine (unless you have a medical exemption) to attend work.

From 26 November 2021, you will also be required to provide evidence to your employer that you have received your second dose (unless you have a medical exemption) to attend work.

A work premises is anywhere you are required to be for your work outside the home (for example, a real estate work premises would include a home inspection, not just head office).

If you are working at or in any of the industries or facilities below, these requirements apply to you – including if you are:

  • an employee
  • a contractor (engaged by the employer or a third party)
  • a volunteer
  • a student on placement.

Click here for Authorised Provider and Worker List 

 

The Directions also specify that the authorised employer:         Source: Chief Health Officer Directions 

  • must collect, record and hold vaccination information about all workers (paid or unpaid) status of all employees
  • must comply with the obligations as soon as is practicable after the commencement of the Directions (7th October 2021) 
  • must also collect, record and hold information relate to unvaccinated employees – and whether that worker has a booking to receive their first dose vaccination by the first dose deadline, 15th October, or has a booking before 22nd October.
  • must treat any employee that they do not hold vaccination information about as unvaccinated 

 

Religious Worker 
A religious worker is someone who works in connection with a place of worship, including a chapel, church, mosque, synagogue or temple.

This does not include workers who: **

  • conduct services of public worship and acknowledgments of faith **
  • perform marriages, funerals and special memorial services according to tradition and ecclesiastical and civil law
  • visit members of the community in their homes, hospitals and other institutions to provide advice and religious comfort for the purpose of end of life faith reasons **

(** This seems very unclear  and we are seeking further clarification  – it could mean those who work independently of a place of worship – but could also be a typo and may be INCLUDES )

 

Funeral Worker
A funeral worker is a person who works in connection with funeral or mortuary services.

Marriage Celebrant 
Applies to any person performing work as a marriage celebrant.

 

PENALTIES 

The Directions specify that

  • A person must not refuse or fail to comply with a direction given to the person, or a requirement made of the person, in the exercise of a power under an authorisation given under section 199.

Penalty:

  •  In the case of a natural person, 120 penalty units (this is equivalent to $21.808.80)
  • In the case of a body corporate, 600 penalty units (this is equivalent to $109,044)

 

 

Update 1/10/21

Premier Media Release 1st October re Authorised worker vaccines 

The Victorian Government has announced mandatory vaccination requirements for all authorised providers and authorised workers (APAW) who are not working from home.

All workers – in Melbourne and regional Victoria – on the Authorised Worker list who cannot work at home will require their first COVID-19 vaccine dose by Friday, 15 October

From 26 November 2021, the requirement will increase to having had two doses or a medical exception.

The Authorised Worker List includes and is not limited to:

  • faith leaders broadcasting services and ceremonies at places of worship, with the minimum number of people required for the broadcast to occur (no more than 5 people); or
  • funerary or mortuary services or related activities; or
  • marriage celebrant only if one or both of the two persons being married are at the end of life, or will be deported from Australia unless the marriage takes place;
  • a childcare, early learning centre, kindergarten, preschool or family day care provider; 

This may include anyone that is on site involved in the broadcast of services, pastoral staff visiting and praying for people, playgroup leaders on site when groups recommence, anyone involved on site in facilitating a funeral or wedding etc.

Please ensure your church looks carefully at the authorised worker list and ensures that all authorised workers that will be on site and cannot work from home are first dose vaccinated by Friday October 15th. They will need to ensure they have received a second dose of vaccine by November 26th, 2021. 

To book a vaccination through state-run centres or to see links for how to book at your local GP or pharmacy visit www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/vaccine.

To read more – click here 

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is an Authorised provider or authorised Worker?

Authorised providers are businesses and organisations that can open in Restricted Areas when there are only 6 reasons to leave your home, with an authorised worker being those individuals required to perform the essential tasks delivered by these businesses and organisations. 

Anyone on this list – even if not in a locked-down area, must comply with this requirement. The vaccine mandate will apply to all worksites and workers in metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria who can leave home for work under the APAW. (Source)

 

Who is an Authorised Worker at our church?

The following are the most common examples of Authorised Workers in a church context. They are Authorised Workers ONLY for the purpose of doing these limited examples of Permitted Work and only where it cannot be done from home. 

  • Pastors: as marriage celebrant, officiating at a funeral, broadcasting, and permitted end of life pastoral care visitation
  • Broadcast Team member: attending church property for recording or livestreaming a broadcast of a religious service or ceremony
  • Essential Services: staff or volunteers operating foodbanks or providing essential services to the homeless

A full list of who is considered an authorised provider or an authorised worker is available online.

All Authorised Workers (paid or volunteer) in Metropolitan Melbourne and locked down LGAs in Regional Victoria must carry an Authorised Worker Permit from their employer whenever they are travelling to work and attending work. The Work Permit is not required in Regional Victoria except those LGAs currently in lockdown.

Note: Due to the broad type of work conducted by our churches and Agencies, we have not specified who the Authorised Workers are in those contexts. If you are unsure, please contact Victorian Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398.

 

What are the exemptions for vaccination of authorised workers?

The only exemption that will apply to Authorised Workers at Affiliated churches and agencies is the medical exemption.  An exemption will require a letter from the worker’s doctor.  Those with a medical exemption can live and work the same as a person who has been vaccinated.

Please direct all workers who have queries about medical exemptions to seek advice from a qualified medical professional regarding their personal circumstances.  Only a qualified medical professional can give advice on this matter.  

In limited exceptional circumstances, an organisation can also approve unvaccinated workers to continue working if it is necessary, including:

  • for a worker to provide for urgent specialist clinical or medical care at the work premises due to an emergency situation or a critical unforeseen circumstance; or
  • for a worker to fill a vacancy to provide urgent care, to maintain quality of care and/or continue essential operations at the work premises due to an emergency situation or a critical unforeseen circumstance; or
  • for a worker who is required to attend the premises to respond to an emergency at the work premises; or
  • for a worker to sustain human or animal health, safety and wellbeing where a vaccinated worker cannot be sourced in a timely manner; or
  • for a worker to make a premises safe and secure, or to perform urgent and essential work to protect assets and infrastructure where a vaccinated worker cannot be sourced in a timely manner.   (Source)

 

What if a worker has chosen not to be vaccinated?

If a church or agency worker has not been able to be vaccinated by the deadline or has chosen not to be vaccinated but they do not have a medical exemption, then they will need to continue to work from home. They will not be eligible to leave home to work as an Authorised Worker.  This may mean some adjustments (temporary or permanent) by your church or agency in order to accommodate them.

Supports may include:

  • Allowing workers to not attend in person services or events (where they are permitted to be run in person)
  • Facilitating a worker’s ability to participate in broadcasts from home (providing equipment, training, adjusting the recording schedule etc)
  • Pre-arranging an alternate pastoral carer (who has been vaccinated) to visit end-of-life ministry recipients
  • Altering rosters to ensure that sufficient vaccinated people can effectively run a program or service
  • Moving (or keeping) services or events online
  • Arranging for an alternate qualified person who is vaccinated to officiate at a wedding or funeral – in some instances unvaccinated Pastors may still be able to attend the event as one of the capped numbers of general attendees for whom vaccination is not mandated but they will not be able to work at the service
  • Accommodating requests to take annual leave
  • Pre-recording a library of content with your Broadcast Teams prior to 15 October 2021
  • Working in conjunction with other churches to provide broadcast content or in person ministry

There may be many other ways your church or agency can accommodate those who do not wish to be vaccinated in the short term. Please consider the short and long term implications of such changes in your context, noting the overarching principle of the vaccine requirement is to provide a safe and healthy workplace and worship space for those attending.  This topic may cause anxiety for some people – please ensure that conversations about the vaccination status of your workers is conducted with respect and in line with rights to privacy.

 

 

Update 20/09/21 

Victoria’s Roadmap Summary

Metropolitan Melbourne Roadmap

Regional Victoria Roadmap

Current Restrictions – Melbourne

Current Restrictions – Regional Victoria

 

Restrictions below applies for current Phase A of roadmap until Phase B kicks in (70% fully vaccinated-indicative date 26th October). More updates to come.

Click here for BUV Response to Victoria’s Roadmap and Vaccination Passports >

Current restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire and Shepparton 

Reasons to leave home

  • shopping for necessary goods and services
  • caregiving or compassionate reasons, including medical care or to get a COVID-19 test
  • authorised work (with a permit) or permitted education (See mandatory vaccine requirement above announced 1/10)
  • exercise (once a day for up to 4 hours, and that 4 hours includes any time spent outdoors socialising in limited groups)
  • outdoor social interaction in limited groups (once a day for up to 4 hours, and that 4 hours includes any time spent on exercise)
  • to get a COVID-19 vaccination (provided the distance travelled, and the time taken is no more than is absolutely necessary)
  • Travel limit: 10km

Outdoor gathering: Fully vaccinated residents can gather in groups of five from up to two different households and unvaccinated people are limited to groups of two, up to 4hours

Private Gathering: Not permitted, single bubble person permitted

Religious gatherings and ceremonies: No in-person gatherings permitted. Broadcast permitted with maximum five people (same 5-person rule no longer applies). A permit is required for each person. Please see mandatory vaccination requirement above announced 1/10/21.

Essential Services: Places of worship may host essential public support services, such as operating a food bank or a service for homeless persons -limited to a maximum of 10 people.

Funerals (indoor and outdoor): Permitted with no more than 10 people (and those workers necessary to conduct the funeral). Children under 12 months old are not counted towards this cap

Weddings (indoor and outdoor): Not permitted unless end of life or for deportation reasons. Involves only 5 persons (including the two persons being married, celebrant, two witnesses)

Curfew (For Metropolitan Melbourne only): From 9pm to 5am, a person is not permitted to leave their home except for limited reasons. Outside of curfew times, you cannot leave your home unless you are doing it for one of the five following reasons:  

Face coverings:

  • must be carried at all times
  • must be worn indoors and outdoors except if at home, or when visiting an intimate partner’s place of residence or if an exception applies
  • exception for food and drink limited so that face coverings can only be removed to eat and to drink non-alcoholic beverages

Work: If you can work from home, you must work from home

FAQ – Melbourne

Eased of restrictions

No stay at home requirement, no travel limit

Private Gathering – Not permitted, exceptions apply

Public Gathering – Max 10 people

Religious Gatherings

  • up to 20 persons per venue (excluding those required to conduct religious ceremonies), and a density limit of 1 person per 4 square metres
  • A COVID Check-In Marshal must be present

Community Facilities

  • up to 20 persons per facility

Funerals (Indoors and outdoors)

  • Permitted with a maximum of 20 people (plus those necessary to conduct the funeral/wedding)
  • Children under 12 months old are not counted towards this cap.

Weddings (Indoors and outdoors)

  • Permitted with a maximum of 10 people (plus those necessary to conduct the funeral/wedding)
  • Children under 12 months old are not counted towards this cap.

Work

  • If you can work from home, you should work from home
  • Office work permitted up to 25 per cent or a limit of 10 people if total workplace is 40 or less, density quotient of 1 person per 4 sqm applies

Face Coverings

  • must be carried at all times
  • must be worn indoors and outdoors by Victorians aged 12 years or over except if at home, or when visiting an intimate partner’s place of residence or if an exception applies
  • recommend primary school age children wear masks indoors and outdoors, exception applies

 

FAQ – Regional Victoria

 

 

 

 

Update 08/09/21 Regional Victoria – Eased of Restrictions

Source:

Premier Statement

Table of Restrictions

Lockdown restrictions (and 5-person updated rule below) remain in place for Metropolitan Melbourne and Shepparton. From 11.59pm Thursday 9 September 2021, the following settings will apply for regional Victoria, except Shepparton.

No stay at home requirement, no 5km travel limit

Private Gathering – Not permitted, exceptions apply

Public Gathering – Max 10 people

Religious Gatherings

  • up to 20 persons per venue (excluding those required to conduct religious ceremonies), and a density limit of 1 person per 4 square metres
  • A COVID Check-In Marshal must be present

Community Facilities

  • up to 20 persons per facility

Funerals (Indoors and outdoors)

  • Permitted with a maximum of 20 people (plus those necessary to conduct the funeral/wedding)
  • Children under 12 months old are not counted towards this cap.

Weddings (Indoors and outdoors)

  • Permitted with a maximum of 10 people (plus those necessary to conduct the funeral/wedding)
  • Children under 12 months old are not counted towards this cap.

Work

  • If you can work from home, you should work from home
  • Office work permitted up to 25 per cent or a limit of 10 people if total workplace is 40 or less, density quotient of 1 person per 4 sqm applies

Face Coverings

  • must be carried at all times
  • must be worn indoors and outdoors by Victorians aged 12 years or over except if at home, or when visiting an intimate partner’s place of residence or if an exception applies
  • recommend primary school age children wear masks indoors and outdoors, exception applies

 

FAQ – Regional Victoria

 

Update 03/09/21 Lockdown Extended Updates

The Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR) have confirmed that due to the health and wellbeing concerns of maintaining the same 5-person team to support broadcasting and livestreaming for religious services, rotating rosters of two teams is allowed. Importantly, the two teams should always be the same five people and should not mix.

If you have a specific scenario for your church, please ring the Victorian Coronavirus Hotline 1800 675 398 and seek advice specific to your circumstances. We also recommend that you ask for a reference number for your case.

 

Update 21/08/21  Lockdown Settings

Source:

Premier Statement

Table of Restrictions

All metropolitan Melbourne restrictions – except for the curfew – will be implemented across regional Victoria from 1pm today until 11.59pm Thursday, 2 September.

Religious gatherings and ceremonies: No in-person gatherings permitted. Broadcast permitted with maximum five people – must be the same five people each time. This means that you can only select the same five people for the next two weeks, even across different languages/services. A permit is required for each person. 

Essential Services: Places of worship may host essential public support services, such as operating a food bank or a service for homeless persons -limited to a maximum of 10 people.

Funerals (indoor and outdoor): Permitted with no more than 10 people (and those workers necessary to conduct the funeral). Children under 12 months old are not counted towards this cap

Weddings (indoor and outdoor): Not permitted unless end of life or for deportation reasons. Involves only 5 persons (including the two persons being married, celebrant, two witnesses)

Reasons to leave home

Curfew (Melbourne only): From 9pm to 5am, a person is not permitted to leave their home except for limited reasons.

Private and Public Gathering: Not permitted, single bubble person permitted

Face coverings:
• must be carried at all times
• must be worn indoors and outdoors by Victorians aged 12 years or over except if at home, or when visiting an intimate partner’s place of residence or if an exception applies
• recommend primary school age children wear masks indoors and outdoors, except at home or if an exception applies
• exception for food and drink limited so that face coverings can only be removed to eat and to drink non-alcoholic beverages

Work: If you can work from home, you must work from home
Authorised workplaces and workers are permitted to attend onsite work
• Authorised workers are permitted to travel to and from work even when curfew is in place
A permit is required when leaving the home for authorised work or permitted higher education

 

 

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