Current - 28 October 2020
Other changes will take place on 8 November when travel restrictions between Metropolitan Melbourne and Regional Victoria are dropped.
In all Victoria, clergy, church and congregational members must wear masks for anything outside the home, including weddings, funerals, home visits, livestreaming or recording services, and any other ministry. The exception is when masks inhibit speaking for the person leading. When not speaking or singing, a mask must be put back on.
Rules for all gatherings and services
For all outdoor gatherings and services, please ensure the following:
- A COVID-safe plan has been approved by parish council, a COVID-safe officer has been appointed.
- Seats can be used but must be properly wiped clean before and afterwards.
- People must remain at least 1.5m from each other.
- Masks must be worn at all times, apart from the clergy or licensed lay leader when they are speaking. Please note that masks must be fitted masks. Face shields, scarves and bandanas are not a legal replacement for masks.
- Hand sanitiser is used on arrival.
- Toilets are cleaned before and afterwards.
- There is no overlap of attendees from one service/gathering to another apart from the cleric or lay person leading.
- An attendance register of first names and phone numbers is made and kept for 28 days.
- People who have any COVID symptoms must not attend.
- The cleric or lay person leading must ensure everyone abides by the hygiene rules
- People cannot linger or mingle afterwards or access the church premises other than to use toilets.
- The COVID-safe officer does not have to attend but has to ensure that the rules are known and will be kept. If the COVID-safe officer does attend, they are included within the maximum number of people allowed.
- People attending do not need to be from the same household or social bubble.
- Do not use shared prayer books or Bibles
- Communion must be in one kind - hosts.
- No food, drink, vessels, utensils or other equipment are to be shared by participants.
Churches and Services
Indoor Church services may take place with 20 participants and one faith leader. This varies from our previous experience of 20 participants and those needed to perform the service. So, please count assisting clergy, the organist, servers etc in your 20.
*Outdoor Services and Gatherings
Parishes and church buildings in Regional Victoria can have outdoor services and gatherings on church property (or within 1km of the church) of up to 50 people plus there must be once cleric or licensed lay minister leading the gathering.
Only parishioners living in regional Victoria can attend churches in regional Victoria. All parishes must refuse entry to anyone who lives in one of the stage 3 restricted areas other than for weddings or funerals or if that person is working for the parish.
Live Streaming / Videoing
Churches can livestream / video services inside with a max. of five people essential for producing the service.
Places of religion and worship can open for private worship. Private worship can be attended by a household and up to two visitors plus a faith leader.
Insider gatherings other than Private Prayer
Churches cannot have inside meetings, playgroups, youth groups, Bible study groups or other indoor activity.
We are legally obliged to record only the first name of each person attending and their phone number for contact tracing. This record is to be kept for 28 days. We suggest having someone responsible for this and no sharing of pens.
If a room, hall or church is used only weekly, COVID-standard cleaning should still take place. When spaces are used more frequently, cleaning needs to be in between each use, and strictly follow the COVID guidelines provided.
There are several reports of heightened danger of infection through singing. For the time being, there is to be no congregational singing, choirs or singing groups or rehearsals.
For videoing or live-streaming a service with no congregation present, a few singers, standing at least 3m apart and not facing anyone, is acceptable, but still limit the amount of singing.
We suggest that you record in your parish service register all online services, leaving attendance blank where unknown.
Weddings and Funerals
Weddings are limited to ten people including the couple and two witnesses. The celebrant is not included in the ten person cap. You cannot travel to or from metropolitan Melbourne to attend a wedding as a guest. Babies under 12 months of age are not included in the limit.
Funerals are limited to 20 mourners plus those required to conduct the funeral. You can travel to attend a funeral. Babies under 12 months of age are not included in the limit.
Outside funerals have had the limit extended to 50 people.
A wedding or funeral held in a private residence will be limited to the members of the household and the household bubble (up to five visitors), plus the people required to conduct the ceremony.
Clergy who decline weddings or funerals for personal safety reasons are urged to speak with the Bishop to see if another minister can conduct the service.
Wakes are not considered part of the funeral.
You can hold a gathering after a funeral however the following limits apply:
- A wake held outdoors in a public place can have up to 10 people outdoors
- A wake held at a restaurant or café can have up to 10 people
- If you hold a wake at your home then only the members of your household and up to two visitors can attend.
Baptism, Confirmation or Other Pastoral Services
Please see indoor service limits.
Pastoral Care by the Clergy
Personal pastoral ministry will be challenging in a lockdown and restricted access situation. It is certain that this ministry will be requested and clergy need to work through the hygiene and personal spatial separation issues that a pastoral visit or a home communion raise. Social isolation will increase the risk to mental health and general well-being. Pastoral visits ought to be with the residents’ agreement.
We expect clergy will maintain regular contact with parishioners by phone, skype or other digital means at the least. Where personal contact is required masks should be worn.
Home communion should only be in one kind - host. In such cases, the recipient cannot be in compulsory isolation and the recipient must be agreeable to the visit. This should only be for the people living in that home and not for a gathered group. The utmost hygiene of clean hands and distance must be maintained, not only for the safety of the person at home but for the clergy also. Be careful in sharing food or drink.
Clergy in Risk Categories
Some clergy are in at risk categories because of health, family members’ health or age. Please speak to the Bishop about this matter.
Other Activities - Op Shops etc
Op Shops in are able to open but must have a COVID-safe plan (as outlined in previous dNews). Op shop COVID-safe plans need to reflect density quotients and cleaning requirements. Op shop COVID-safe plans should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
If your parish has an emergency relief programme, there will need to be a demonstrated risk plan provided to the appropriate organisation (Diocese, Anglicare Victoria, Brotherhood of St Laurence).
We realise that your usual volunteers may well belong to at risk groups (e.g. over 70 or with chronic health conditions), yet this may also be an opportunity for others from your parish or surrounding parishes who are not normally in a position to volunteer but are now available to help.
Church Rental Groups
Parishes should ask for a COVID-Safe plan from groups who rent church facilities and negotiate cleaning with those groups. Ensure such groups are permitted to meet. Parishes should be confident each user group is adhering to government requirements for permitted work activity, attendance recording and limits, social distancing, hygiene and to the particular restrictions for their group. Ultimately, adherence to rules is the responsibility of those groups.
Tenants with exclusive use of a property (childcare, kindergartens) are responsible for their own COVID19 compliance. Licensees and hall hirers are expected to clean and disinfect before vacating the property each time they use it, with the parish maintaining regular cleaning including COVID19-compliant disinfection. Some suggested checklists are available here for licensees and hall users.
Church rentals, especially housing, may be affected by National Cabinet decisions to give protections to tenants and lessees.
Mon, Tue & Thurs at the Bishop’s Registry (5331 1183)
Wed at home (4343 1405)
Email - email@example.com
The Safe Church Officer
The Rev’d Glen Wesley
Mon-Wed at the Bishop’s Registry (5331 1183)
or 0429 146 566
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
General Synod Advice re Streaming & Copyright
CCLI live streaming licence
Each church that intends to conduct live streaming must have its own individual CCLI Church Copyright live streaming licence. This licence allows you to stream or podcast your live-recorded worship service music on your church’s website or other streaming services. Group licences are currently not available. Further details see https://au.ccli.com/copyright-licences/.
Copyright for the use of material from A Prayer Book for Australia should be acknowledged during live streaming and a graphic added to end of any published videos.
Use of music during live streaming services
Those who are using contemporary songs will need to purchase a licence via CCLI as noted above. Those who are using traditional hymns played live rather than recordings should not require permission if the music is in the public domain, which much of it is.
Choral music will need to be in the public domain otherwise a license will be required. Parishes should seek the advice of their person who usually coordinates music in their parish in this regard.
Use of video during live streaming services
Showing film scenes, videos or clips will require specific licencing to prevent against any breaches of copyright.
Privacy law should also be considered in the case of live streaming. Ensuring that you have the permission of those who may appear in your live stream will minimise the risk of a privacy breach.