COVID-19 Church Worker Frequently Asked Questions

All information below is current unless pending changes are indicated.

Latest changes:

  • December Southern Cross online.
  • From Dec 15 - no masks and no density limits, see here.
  • Recommencing playgroups added here.
  • Updated guidelines for Youth and Children’s Ministry here.
  • New details on checking in without a smart phone here.
  • Information for churches on improving ventilation.
  • Updated question on cleaning, if you have had a COVID-19 case here

Up-to-date summary

As of November 8: 

  • Places of worship open to all, density limits now 1 person per 2m2
  • Singing is permitted in places of worship, for vaccinated persons only and face masks are required indoors. These rules in force until Dec 15.
  • Wedding ceremonies are permitted with no person limit (5-guest limit for people who are not fully vaccinated).
  • Funerals permitted with no person limit (10-person limit for people who are not fully vaccinated) and eating and drinking allowed while standing, density limits still apply.
  • Eating and drinking at weddings and funerals must be seated for people who are not fully vaccinated.
  • No singing or dancing indoors for people who are not fully vaccinated.
  • There no limits to the number of visitors to your home.
  • Covid Safety Plan for Places of Worship updated

As of December 15

  • Masks will only be required on public transport and planes, at airports, and for indoors front-of-house hospitality staff who are not fully vaccinated. Masks will be strongly encouraged in settings where you cannot social distance.
  • Singing without masks
  • No density limits (previously one person per 2sqm)
  • COVID safety plans will be optional for businesses and will be supported by SafeWork NSW
  • QR check-ins will only be required at high-risk venues including hospitals, aged and disability care facilities, places of worship and funerals or memorial services.
  • Proof of vaccination will no longer be required by Public Health Order for most activities (businesses can still require proof at their own discretion
  • Weddings permitted with no person limit, eating and drinking allowed while standing and dancing permitted.
  • Funerals permitted with no person limit, and eating and drinking allowed while standing.

The government has updated the timeline document. See here.

Vaccine Information

The Health Department has produced two documents, outlining current knowledge on vaccine efficiency and transmission patterns of the Delta variant of COVID-19.

Download the Fact Sheet.

For more detailed scientific background, download the Evidence Check.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the rules concerning funerals?

Funerals are now permitted with no person limit (10-person limit for people who are not fully vaccinated). 2mlimits apply.

Eating and drinking allowed while standing. Eating and drinking must be seated for people who are not fully vaccinated.

Can we perform weddings?

Wedding ceremonies are now permitted with 2m2 with no limit on persons (5-guest limit for people who are not fully vaccinated).
 

How can people prove their immunisation status?

Immunisation status can be shown via a digital certificate on a smart phone or people can apply to have a printed certificate sent to them (takes about two weeks) by calling the Australian Immunisation Register on 1800 653 809 or online through this link.

What if people don’t have a smart phone or digital wallet to check in?

People who do not have a smart phone can now order or download a Check-In card from NSW Health.

This will enable them to check in to premises by having their card scanned either by a QR Reader or by using the camera of a laptop, tablet or mobile phone connected to the internet, and will avoid them needing to complete their contact details manually when checking in. This could alleviate some concerns that people may have about manually checking in as we prepare to return.

It is not mandatory to check in using the Check-in card, but if you wanted to explore this option with your congregation members, here are some helpful tools and tips.

  • Service NSW has some FAQs for businesses about the new COVID-19 check-in card here.
  • Service NSW also has helpful information here on how to order or download a card
  • It is not mandatory for your members to check in using the card, but if you wish to make this facility available you will need to use a laptop, tablet or mobile phone connected to the internet to scan the QR code using the camera on your device or you can purchase a QR Reader.
  • QR Readers range in price from approximately $50. You should conduct your own research into the most suitable technology for your purposes or whether using your mobile phone or laptop will be an easier option.
  • If you decide to purchase a QR Reader and have this facility available, you must ensure that you protect the privacy and confidentiality of those entering your premises in this way. This will mean ensuring the QR Reader is secure at all times.

What is the advice on ventilation for churches?

Well-ventilated indoor spaces reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19. The Health Department has posted advice on ventilation here.

Can we host Food Banks or other services for vulnerable people?

A place of public worship can be open to provide a service to assist vulnerable members of the public, for example a food bank or a service providing for the needs of homeless persons. COVID rules apply including the 4sq metre rule, the wearing of face masks and mandatory check in. You should ensure you have an updated COVID Safety Plan.

Can we deliver ‘care packages’ to vulnerable persons?

Care packages can be delivered to vulnerable persons. Where the vulnerable persons are vaccinated, you are able to visit in their homes.

Livestreaming and singing

Singing is permitted at services, but unvaccinated persons are not allowed to sing. Face masks are required indoors. These rules are in force until Dec 15.

There are a number of options for recorded singing -

Emu Music: 

Emu have created a large number of song leading videos of hymns and contemporary songs exactly for the purpose of using in online church services. This page here allows for direct downloading, royalty free and which can be easily embedded into what ever format churches are using.

City Alight:

City Alight will do a two-week free use of songs in this way. If churches don’t have a CCLI license to use the songs, they’re welcome to use them if they contact licensing@integritymusic.com and hello@cityalight.com to let us know they’re using them. 

If churches do have the streaming plus CCLI license, the same process as usual. We direct all people to our FAQs page here. In summary, to use the videos in a livestream you need a CCLI livestream plus license, to use them in a zoom call that won’t be published, you need a regular CCLI Church reporting license. 

Colin Buchanan: 

Colin’s YouTube channel here has video clips to choose from. Such as Jesus Strong and Kind here and Be strong and courageous here.
If you could register usage through your CCLI.

St. Andrew's Cathedral:

The Cathedral Music team still has some hymns and some songs by Rob Smith available to download from this dropbox:
here.

Where will I find ongoing information and updates?

The Archbishop 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 Orders can be found here

The latest COVIDsafe plan for Places of Public Worship here

The latest COVIDsafe plan for Weddings and Funerals here

What are the requirements for recording contact details?

Under the amendments to Public Health (COVID-19 Gathering Restrictions) Order (No 2) 2021:

Places of public worship must now use the Service NSW app and cannot use their own method for recording contact details. The only general exception is if it is not possible to register the person’s details by mobile phone or it would be unsafe to do so.

Churches will also need to use the Service NSW app for the church office (including for staff).

What are the requirements for cleaning, if there has been a confirmed case on the premises?

NSW Health does not require that a specialist cleaning company be used, but you can if you want to. There are detailed requirements here.

What about Youth & Children’s Ministry?

The following guidelines have been supplied by Youthworks on Dec 6, 2021.

For more information please contact Al James (email).

From Dec 15 or when NSW reaches 95% vaccination of 16 and over (whichever comes first), youth and children’s gatherings can be run on church property, in homes or outdoors with no density limits.

Vaccination

From  Dec 15 or when NSW reaches 95% vaccination of 16 and over (whichever comes first) Children’s and youth gatherings are open to all regardless of vaccination status. 

Vaccination of leaders is not required by law.

Masks, social distancing and young people

From Dec 15 or when NSW reaches 95% vaccination of 16 and over (whichever comes first), there is no requirement for young people to wear masks indoors or outdoors.

Wearing of masks is strongly encouraged where social distancing is not possible.

Singing

From Dec 15 or when NSW reaches 95% vaccination of 16 and over (whichever comes first) indoor and outdoor group singing can occur in youth and children’s gatherings with no restrictions.

Ventilation

Children’s and youth programs should utilise outdoor settings where possible and increase ventilation indoors where possible by opening windows or through other means.

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 should use the Service NSW QR code, Service NSW webform where possible, or an alternative electronic format (eg. Elvanto).  

Youth and Children’s ministry gatherings in homes

From Dec 15 or when NSW reaches 95% vaccination of 16 and over (whichever comes first) there is no limit to the number of people allowed to visit a home.
NB. Adult householders are responsible for the gathering.

Youth and Children’s ministry gatherings in outdoor public spaces

From Dec 15 or when NSW reaches 95% vaccination of 16 and over (whichever comes first), youth and children’s ministry gatherings can occur with no limits.   

Further Advice:

From Dec 15 or when NSW reaches 95% vaccination of 16 and over (whichever comes first), Covid safety plans will be optional.

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.   

For help implementing these guidelines in your local setting, contact Youthworks Ministry Support.

Can Playgroups now run in Churches?

From Dec 15 or when NSW reaches 95% vaccination of 16 and over (whichever comes first), play groups will be able to run.

Can we continue SRE?

Guidelines for SRE including current restrictions can be found here.

Can camps happen?

Yes, all camp organisers should speak directly with the provider or conference centre being used.

How can I do an AGM on Zoom?

Temporary arrangements have been put in place for parishes that had not been able to hold an Annual General Meeting (AGM) because of the impact of COVID19.

One such arrangement is to allow an AGM to be held remotely through the use of technology,

Full details are here in PDF. Accompanying PowerPoint Slides are here.

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

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

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.