The Tasmanian Government has announced places of worship can reopen for small religious gatherings and ceremonies for a limited number of attendees (plus those necessary to provide the ceremony), once COVID-19 Safety Plans are in place including thorough cleaning, use of hand sanitiser and maintaining physical distancing (1.5 metres and 4 square metres per person). Perhaps you can gather, but should you?

In Tasmania gatherings of up to 10 can restart from May 18, with a limit of 20 attendees from June 15. It is a government requirement that a comprehensive COVID-19 Safety Plan is developed before gatherings take place, as well as keeping records of all people in present in case contact tracing is required.

Before re-opening your doors to gatherings including worship services, prayer groups and other meetings by other users, it is vital to consider not only all of the necessary physical requirements, but even more importantly the ministry and mission implications. Who can gather safely, and who would be left out?

There are a number of additional factors for every Church Council and congregation to also consider, including requirements for COVID-19 cleaning and cleaning time between events, no food or drinks shared, and pastoral care.

The UCA safety checklist sent to all Uniting Churches will assist in deciding if you are able to be COVID-19 compliant, and will help develop your COVID-19 Safety Plan.

For more information visit the UCATas website or phone the Tasmanian office (03) 6331 9784.