A series of meetings has begun to help rectors and churchwardens grapple with COVID health measures as Freedom Day approaches in New South Wales in October.

The meetings have been convened by Archbishop Kanishka Raffel through his regional bishops and cover theological, legal, logistical and health advice.

There are predictions that Freedom Day for New South Wales, the first Monday after 70 per cent of the state is double vaccinated, could be October the 11th. This would mean a return to church opening would be possible on the Sunday following, which is October the 17th. 

However, churches may be wary of opening at 70 per cent, given that the 80 per cent vaccination level will follow shortly after, probably in a fortnight. 

“At 70 percent there will continue to be significant restrictions,” said the Bishop of South Sydney, Michael Stead, who has been involved in the clergy meetings. “At that point, unvaccinated people will be under stay-at-home orders and children will only be able to attend church in the company of vaccinated adult members of their household.”

Different restrictions are likely to apply after 80 per cent although the government’s roadmap is not specific enough to make any firm predictions about what it might mean for places of worship.

“One thing is certain now,” Bishop Stead says. “In preparation for the 80 percent level, we are recommending that all ministers and all those involved in youth and children’s ministry should be vaccinated.” 

“It will be at least early October before the government unveils a detailed roadmap for churches to return to in-person gatherings.”

Feature photo: Olgierd Flickr