In addition to what has been previously communicated (see the COVID-19 section of the diocesan website for all guidelines and protocols), the following are offered for clarification regarding the current COVID restrictions pertaining to our buildings.
- Do worshippers need to be vaccinated if the parish is worshipping outdoors? No, everyone is welcome to outdoor services, with COVID protocols in place, regardless of vaccination status.
- When do we need to ask for proof of vaccinations and identification? It is mandatory to ensure all participants present are vaccinated for indoor gatherings of 50 people or more. For smaller groups, use your best judgement. For example, for a weekly ten-person Bible study held in the parish hall, simply remind participants that they are asked not to attend if they're not vaccinated. If you are hosting a group of 40 to discuss community matters, and some of those people are parishioners and some are neighbours or guests, please formally check vaccination cards. Worship is an exception; people are asked to worship via an online option if they are unvaccinated, but we are not checking proof of vaccination at worship services.
- Can the Anglican church offer a "religious exemption" to being vaccinated? No. Chancellors across the country have examined this question and responded: "There is neither legal nor doctrinal authority within the Anglican Church of Canada or any of its ministers to issue the requested religious vaccination exemption." No clergy is authorized to give an exemption to vaccination on religious grounds. Vaccination exceptions given on medical grounds by a physician (proof provided) will be respected.
- How do vaccine requirements apply to third-party groups (i.e. groups that are renting the hall, etc.)? All third-party user groups must abide by provincial health orders while using our buildings. Additionally, as per diocesan guidelines, all participants must be vaccinated and provide proof of vaccination to their group organizer to enter our buildings. There is an exception for participants of essential services such as drug and alcohol support groups, food distribution services, etc. (A full list of exceptions can be found on Item L of the September 10th Provincial Order on Gatherings and Events.)
- What are the protocols regarding singing? Groups may sing indoors if all participants are wearing masks. Outdoor singing may be unmasked with social distancing.
- What are the protocols regarding eating and drinking? Food and drink may be consumed outside only.
- What are the capacity limits for indoor events/worship? We encourage all parishes to limit capacity to a maximum of 50% (with respectful distancing), using all available space. Although "respectful distancing" is not clearly defined by the order, 2m is still considered the safest distance when outside the home, and what we are recommending.
Please remember, these policies are temporary measures that are intended to protect our parishioners and community members and ALSO protect the functionality of our (already exhausted) health care system. We are taking a more cautious approach than the provincial health orders, but the orders are a base-line and can be, and should be, exceeded in communities where the context allows us to do so. We will all get through this pandemic faster if we are exceptional in how we care for one another now.