The Tasmanian Government has announced places of worship can reopen for small religious gatherings and ceremonies of up to 10 attendees (plus those necessary to provide the ceremony), once COVID-19 Safety Plans are in place including physical distancing (1.5 metres and 4 square metres per person).
In Tasmania gatherings of up to 10 can restart from May 18, with gathering limits of 20 attendees from June 15.
However, before opening your doors to worship services, prayer groups and other meetings by other users, it is vital to consider not only all of the necessary physical requirements, but more importantly the ministry and mission implications. There are a number of additional factors which every church council should also consider including physical distance requirements, cleaning time and cleaning between events, and pastoral care.
It is a government requirement that a comprehensive COVID-19 Safety Plan is developed before any gatherings take place, as well as keeping records of all people in attendance in case contact tracing is required.
- Watch this short video from UCATas leaders on preparing to resume church gatherings (9 minutes).
- Read the Uniting Church Checklist and cleaning instructions for congregations to assist local Church Councils in deciding if gatherings are able to be COVID-19 compliant. Use this Microsoft Word template to type in your plans, as a useful step towards the more detailed Tasmanian Government COVID-19 Safety Plan template (see 3, below)
- Complete the WorkSafe Tasmania COVID-19 Safety Plan template for your local Church, including all church events and any other community gatherings at your local church property. Any groups using your property will need their own COVID-19 Safety Plan plan for their own activities. You will need to coordinate with those groups regarding compliant cleaning, shared use of facilities, and potential contact tracing. More information is available from the Tasmanian Government’s COVID-19 Safe Workplaces Framework page.
- Print and use the Uniting Church information posters to provide instructions to help stop the spread, and to indicate how many people can enter and use your property at the one time.
The Uniting Church Checklist will assist you in deciding if you are able to be COVID-19 compliant and help develop your COVID-19 Safety Plan. The COVID-19 Safety Plan should be completed by the Church Council before making any plans to reopen your doors to ensure that you remain Covid-compliant.
Clockwise from lower-left, the video includes Rev Caro Field (Chairperson of the Presbytery of Tasmania), Rev Fee Morrison (Chairperson of Pastoral Relations Committee), Mr Rohan Pryor (Synod Liaison Minister for Tasmania), and Rev Walter Abetz (Chairperson of Resources and Development Committee).