COVID-19 Church Worker Frequently Asked Questions

Assume all information below is current unless pending changes are indicated.

Latest changes:

  • New advice from June 18 - see the up-to-date summary.
  • The latest COVID-19 hotspots are listed here.
  • June Southern Cross printed in churches and online.
  • Updated FAQ section on youth here.
  • Updated FAQ section on paper here.

FAQs

GENERAL

GATHERINGS

FINANCES

OTHER

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Up-to-date summary

New restrictions as of 18th June, 2021

With the emergence of a number of locally acquired cases the NSW government have announced the following to take effect from 4pm today till midnight June 24.

• Avoid non-essential visits to aged care and disability facilities, but if visiting, wear a mask and limit visits to two people per day.

• Masks will be mandatory on public transport from 4pm today.

• Masks are strongly encouraged in all public indoor venues, such as retail, theatres, hospitals, aged care facilities and for front-of-house hospitality staff.

As most of our gatherings are indoors, a decision needs to be made by Rectors and Wardens about the wearing of masks and the degree to which they are to be encouraged based on local risk factors.

Where will I find ongoing information and updates?

The Administrator will be communicating with rectors and wardens on a regular basis. There will be regular updates via the Sydney Anglican COVID 19 page. Please visit this site daily for ongoing information and answers to FAQs.  We encourage you to check the page maintained by NSW Health.

Further detail on some answers can be found on the Parish Portal at SDS

Our Parish HR Partner Vikki Napier has been designated as a point of contact for parishes for any queries related to the impact of COVID-19 on parishes. Vikki’s email.

The latest Public Health Order can be found here

The latest COVIDsafe plan for Places of Public Worship here

The latest COVIDsafe plan for Weddings and Funerals here

How do I calculate the maximum capacity of our premises?

An occupier of premises is directed not to allow more persons on the premises than
the greater of—
(a) the number of persons that is equivalent to 1 person per 2 square metres of space in the premises, or
(b) 25 persons

Information on how to calculate the capacity can be found here.

Some have noted that the same doesn’t seem to apply to entertainment venues and major recreational facilities. The 2 square metre rule still applies to them, except when there is fixed seating and ticketed admission.

What does it mean to ‘Support 1.5m physical distancing where possible?’

Physical distancing of 1.5m reduces the risk of transmission and is still encouraged. Having said that for some our gatherings that isn’t possible while maintaining the 2 square metre rule. Each church or gathering is encouraged to apply this requirement in a way that suits their circumstances and facilities.

Can we hand out paper items such as outlines?

Yes. Bibles, prayer books and outlines, as well as paper items such as the Southern Cross magazine can now be distributed. 

What are the requirements for recording contact details?

For a person entering premises to attend a place of public worship for a religious service or significant event contact details are to be provided - 
(i) by electronically registering the person’s contact details with Service
NSW by means of a mobile phone or other device at the time the person enters the premises, or
(ii) directly to the occupier of the premises.

Records must be provided as soon as possible, but within 4 hours, upon request from an authorised officer.

Any paper records must be entered into an electronic format such as a spreadsheet within 12 hours.

Can we sing?

Singing is permitted.

Can we celebrate the Lord’s Supper?

Yes.

Can we conduct baptisms?

Yes.

Can we gather after church meetings?Can we mingle?

Yes. Having said that attention needs to be paid to avoiding congestion in specific areas and strategies need to be considered when it comes to people gathering after church in a COVID-safe manner.

Can we serve morning tea/meals?

Yes. Food can be served if done in a COVID-safe manner. There is general advice on food preparation and service here.

What about gatherings in households?

Visitors to households are currently restricted to 100, including children.  The latest rules are here.

Can other groups use church premises?

External groups can use places of worship for other activities as long as they are approved by the Rector and Wardens and they have provided a satisfactory COVID-19 safety plan.

What about Youth & Children’s Ministry?

Youth & Children’s Ministry advice 

The following guidelines have been supplied by Youthworks on May 16, 2021. For more information please contact Al James (email).

Youth and children’s gatherings can be run on church property with a maximum limit determined by 1 person by 2 square metres of space, from February 12 across NSW.   

Physical distancing and young people

All regular children’s and youth ministries are considered education programs for physical distancing requirements. This includes creche, preschool groups, playgroups, children’s groups, youth groups and small groups. Young people aged 0-18 do not need to follow strict adult physical distancing guidelines but should follow good hygiene practices. Staff (leaders) should continue to maintain 1.5m physical distancing from students where practical.

Singing

Singing in children’s and youth ministry can occur with no limits. 

Masks and young people

Face masks are not mandatory at places of worship except where social distancing between adults is not possible.

Contact recording

All children’s and youth ministries must keep an electronic record of the name, contact number and entry time for all leaders and young people for a period of at least 28 days. Churches can use the Service NSW QR code, Service NSW webform, or an alternative electronic format (eg. Elvanto).

Further Advice:

All youth and children’s gatherings should follow the COVID Safety Plan for places of worship, (good hygiene, contact recording, cleaning).

Children’s and Youth gatherings run in households with over 100 people must have a Covid safety plan from March 29. 

There should be a minimum of 2 adults present at all times and they should record and store the contact details of those who attend.   

Children’s and Youth social activities run offsite in outdoor environments are limited to 200 young people and leaders in greater Sydney from March 29.

Can we continue SRE?

Yes. Guidelines for SRE including current restrictions can be found here.

Can camps happen?

Yes. All camps should develop a covid safety plan or plans for their event with the conference centre being used.

For camps being held at a caravan park or camping ground, these additional measures should be taken:

1)     Develop a covid safety plan or plans with the caravan park or camping ground being used - https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/covid-safe/caravan-parks-and-camping-grounds

2)     Maximum capacity for communal areas such as dining spaces are subject to the 2m2 Rule.

3)     Sleeping arrangements for tents and cabins.

a)      Record occupants in each tent and the location of each tent.

b)     Where possible, minimise number of occupants and maintain 1.5m distance between bedding.

c)      Maximise airflow whenever possible, both day and night.

d)     Only occupants are to venture into tents.

e)     Regularly clean common touchpoints such as zippers/doors.

 

I have another question that isn’t in these FAQs?

For any further enquiries please contact Vikki Napier, our Parish HR Partner via email.

What about giving?

The closure of our weekly gatherings will have significant financial implications for many of our churches. We encourage Rectors and wardens to communicate with their parishioners to urge them to commence online giving if they are not doing so already. For congregational members who are unable or unwilling to give electronically, we encourage you to suggest means by which these parishioners can continue to provide ongoing support for the ministry of their church. Wardens may need to consider whether there are expenses or projects which can be postponed, to ensure that it is possible to continue paying clergy and staff.

What financial assistance and flexibility is available to parishes?

Almost all parishes should receive direct financial assistance of $20,000 over the course of the year as a result of the Government’s Boosting Cash Flow for Employers measure. In addition, most parishes will be eligible for the JobKeeper Payments scheme for their eligible employees. On 24th April, the Federal Treasurer issued this statement regarding clergy and JobKeeper -

"Religious practitioners: Changes will allow JobKeeper Payments to be made to religious institutions in respect of religious practitioners (with the exception of those that are students only), recognising that many religious practitioners are not ‘employees’ of their religious institutions."

There is further information at this SDS page (sign in required).

The Standing Committee has provided some relief and flexibility for parishes, by –

·         not requiring payment of the Church Land Acquisition Levy (2% of net operating receipts)

·         not making the April PCR charge payable in April, instead apportioning the amount across the rest of the year

·         allowing parishes in financial difficulty to move away from Direct Debit for the monthly PCR charges.

Further (and constantly updated) information on each of these matters is available when signed in on the SDS COVID-19 FAQ page.

Do parishes have any insurance that covers us if all our hall bookings are cancelled?

There is no insurance protection under the Diocesan Insurance Program to compensate parishes for loss of rental income due to their inability to lease or rent premises due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The government announced support for apprentices and trainees. Is this a benefit that our parish can access for our student ministers?

No. Students at Moore College are not apprentices or trainees for this purpose. An apprenticeship or traineeship involves entering into a Training Contract with the assistance of an Apprenticeship Network Provider and nominating a Registered Training Organisation. Parishes will be able to qualify for some other assistance under the Government’s Boosting cash flow for employers measures. See the FAQ about assistance available to parishes from the Government.

I have questions about Property use by third parties and licensing?

Visit the FAQs at sds.asn.au.

I have questions about staff leave and entitlements?

Visit the FAQs at sds.asn.au.

Where to find key information

  • The Health Department has established a one-stop web page for what you can and can't do under the rules.
  • The latest Public Health Orders can be found here.
  • The latest COVID-19 hotspots are listed here.
  • The most recent COVID-19 Safety Plans for Places of Worship can be found here, for Funerals and Memorial Services here and Wedding Ceremonies here.
  • Mandatory COVID Safe registration can be done here.
  • In the case of a COVID incident in your parish, please refer to the COVID Incident Plan for Parishes which can be downloaded here.
  • You’ll find advice from Youthworks in the FAQ section below.
  • If you have any questions please send your enquiries to Vikki Napier.