COVID-19 Church Worker Frequently Asked Questions

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

Latest changes:

  • Updated question on cleaning, if you have had a COVID-19 case here
  • September Southern Cross online.
  • Latest vaccine information here

Up-to-date summary

Lockdown restrictions extended to 30 September for Greater Sydney and Wollongong. Shellharbour and the Central Coast are now considered ‘Regional’.  Regional NSW lockdown extended.

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.

Authorised worker travel

You'll need to register your travel if you are:

  • an authorised worker living in a local government area (LGA) of concern and you need to leave your area for work. This includes travelling to another LGA of concern (also known as a 'workers permit’). 
  • entering an LGA of concern for work (also known as a ‘workers permit’).
  • from a non-area of concern and you need to travel more than 50km outside of Greater Sydney for work, and you cannot work from home.

The permit you need is known as a workers permit or a travel permit. See the full details and online application form here.

LGAs of concern

While the whole of NSW is currently under ‘stay at home’ orders, there are certain local government areas designated as ‘Areas of Concern’. Different restrictions may apply to these areas.

As at 24 August, the areas of concern were listed as:
Bayside local government area
City of Blacktown local government area
Burwood local government area
City of Campbelltown local government area
Canterbury-Bankstown local government area
Cumberland local government area
City of Fairfield local government area
Georges River local government area
City of Liverpool local government area
City of Parramatta local government area
Strathfield local government area
Certain parts of City of Penrith
(a) Caddens,
(b) Claremont Meadows,
(c) Colyton,
(d) Erskine Park,
(e) Kemps Creek,
(f) Kingswood,
(g) Mount Vernon,
(h) North St Marys,
(i) Orchard Hills,
(j) Oxley Park,
(k) St Clair,
(l) St Marys.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the rules concerning funerals?

A place of public worship may be open to the public for a small funeral or memorial service. The service can have no more than 10 persons in attendance, plus those needed to run the service. A person may leave the person’s place of residence to attend a small funeral or memorial service — (a) whether the service is in one’s stay at home area or area of concern, or (b) for a service outside one’s stay at home area or area of concern—the person is the spouse, de facto partner, parent, child or sibling of the deceased person. 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 perform weddings?

From Friday 3 September 2021, small wedding services can be held in NSW.
You can attend a small wedding service if:  
you are legally required to conduct the  wedding service being the celebrant or officiant 
you are one of the 2 people getting married 
you are one of the 2 necessary witnesses  
you are recording the service or  
one of 5 guests.  
These rules mean that no more than 11 people can attend a wedding service under any circumstances. 

If you live outside Greater Sydney, you can leave home to attend a small wedding service outside Greater Sydney.  
If you live in Greater Sydney, you cannot leave home to attend a small wedding service outside Greater Sydney, either as a participant in the service or as a guest. 
Greater Sydney includes the Blue Mountains and Wollongong local government areas. 

Further details here.

When can a minister leave their place of residence for ministry reasons?

A minister of religion may leave their place of residence to – (a) go to the person’s place of worship, or (b) provide pastoral care But if the minister or faith leader lives in an area of concern, they may continue to do the above in the area they live in but are only allowed to leave their area to enter another as an ‘authorised worker’. This means they can only enter another area for the purpose of broadcasting at a place of public worship or providing end of life care or support. Those involved in ministry in a health care or social assistance context may also do so. Details here - Authorised workers | NSW Government.

In addition, from the 28th of August you will need to register your travel if you are leaving or entering an area of concern. In addition, from the 30th of August, if you live in an area of concern, you must not leave your local government area for work unless you have: • had at least 1 dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or • evidence of a medical exemption or • evidence of COVID-19 testing as part of a COVID-19 rapid antigen testing program approved by the Chief Health Officer. Authorised workers who are unable to have a COVID-19 vaccine can request a COVID-19 vaccination exemption for medical reasons.

Can a volunteer assist with live-streaming services?

Volunteers are able to leave their premises to attend ‘work’ where it is not possible for that work to be completed at home, such as assisting with broadcasting services at places of worship. If that volunteer lives in an area of concern, they cannot enter another area unless they are an authorised worker.

Do I need a work/travel permit?

A travel permit (also known as a work permit) will be required if – • You live in an area of concern and wish to travel to another area as an authorised worker • You wish to travel to an area of concern. A travel permit will also be required if you wish to travel for work more than 50k outside Greater Sydney. Note – Greater Sydney will no longer include Shellharbour and the Central Coast for the purpose of this travel registration.

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?

A person may visit a place of residence in a stay at home area to provide assistance to a vulnerable person. A person who lives in an area of concern must not leave the area unless the person is an authorised worker and has registered their travel (as of the 28th of August). Details may be found here - Authorised workers | NSW Government

Can we enter an area of concern to deliver ‘care packages’?

If you live inside Greater Sydney (including the Blue Mountains and Wollongong local government areas), you can enter an area of concern if you have a reasonable excuse. As of the 28th of August you will need to register your travel.

Livestreaming and singing

NSW Health has confirmed that, while churches must not be open to the public, the "livestream team" are permitted.  

Regarding singing - the Health Department granted an exemption from July 3rd. It reads

The occupier of premises that are a place of public worship in Greater Sydney is exempt from clause 14 of the Temporary Measures Order subject to the following conditions:

a. Two singers are permitted to sing or chant at a place of public worship.

b. The singers, while singing or chanting, must be in a room or designated area of the place of public worship.

c. No more than two other persons (e.g. a musician or camera operator) can be in the room or designated area while the singers are singing.

d. The occupier of the premises must take reasonable steps to ensure that the singers, when singing, maintain a distance of 3 metres from anyone else on the premises.

2. A singer singing or chanting in accordance with clause 1) of this exemption is exempt from the requirements in the Temporary Measures Order and the Face Covering Order to wear a fitted face covering, only while the singer is singing or chanting.

In Greater Sydney the absolute minimum number of people should be present at the livestream in the place of worship.

Outside of Greater Sydney - the relaxed restrictions are -

The occupier of premises that are a place of public worship outside of Greater Sydney is exempt from clause 14 of the Temporary Measures Order subject to the following conditions:

a. Only an Exempt Person or a member of an Exempt Group is permitted to sing or chant at the place of public worship.

b. The occupier of the premises must limit the Exempt Group to five singers at one time during a single service.

c. The occupier of the premises must ensure that an Exempt Person or amember of an Exempt Group wears a mask while they are at the place of public worship.

d. The occupier of the premises must take reasonable steps to ensure each member of the Exempt Group maintains physical distance of 1.5 metres from a member of the Exempt Group and maintains a distance of 3 metres from the congregation.

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?

Youth & Children’s Ministry advice 

The following guidelines have been supplied by Youthworks on Sep 17, 2021. For more information please contact Al James (email).

All of Greater Sydney (including Blue Mountains and Wollongong) is subject to stay at home orders. Additionally, some regional areas are also subject to stay at home orders. Check the list or map for affected areas.  

Youth and children’s gatherings in these areas cannot be run on church property in homes, or outdoors. 

For a summary of restrictions for areas that are not affected, check here.

Masks and young people

Leaders as well as children and youth 12 years and older will be recommended to wear face masks indoors in both age specific programs (such as youth group and kids club) and multi age programs (such as church services). This applies in all areas subject to stay at home orders.

Youth and Children’s ministry gatherings in homes or outdoors

Youth and children’s ministry gatherings cannot occur in homes or outdoors in affected areas (including all of greater Sydney and some regional areas – see the link above). There is a limit of 5 visitors to a home outside of these areas (not including children 12 and under).

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 regularly used surfaces) and should review practices regularly to ensure compliance.

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.   

Can we continue SRE?

Guidelines for SRE including current restrictions can be found here.

Can camps happen?

Camps within Greater Sydney or regional NSW cannot occur under current stay at home orders.

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 4m2 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.

 

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.