COVID-19 Updated Restrictions for Religious Gatherings & Events

NSW Health Changes effective Friday 23 October 2020

As of Friday 23 October 2020, for services apart from weddings and funerals, places of worship can have up to 300 people or one person per 4 square metres of space, whichever is less.

How many people are allowed:

Religious services:
300 people, or one visitor per 4 square metres of space (excluding staff), whichever is the lesser, may attend a religious service in a place of public worship. Children count towards the capacity limit.

150 people, or one guest per 4 square metres, whichever is the lesser, may attend a wedding service in a place of public worship. Children count towards the capacity limit in places of worship.

From 1 December 2020, the number of people who can attend a wedding increases to 300 people subject to the four square metre rule indoors and two square metre rule outdoors.

Funerals or memorial services:
100 people, or one guest per 4 square metres, whichever is the lesser, may attend a funeral or memorial service in a place of public worship. Children count towards the capacity limit in places of worship.

NSW Health updated advice regarding singing and chanting for places of worship

In accordance with advice from the Chief Health Officer, NSW Health recommends the following measures for singing and chanting.

A small group of up to 5 people may sing together in a large well-ventilated (preferably outdoor) area if:

  • all singers face forwards and not towards each other 
  • have physical distancing of 1.5 metres between each other and any other performers, and 5 metres from all other people including the audience and conductor.

Ensembles and other musical groups should rehearse and perform outdoors or in large, well-ventilated indoor spaces.

Latest update as @ 18th July 2020 for NSW

There will be a new 150-person limit at weddings, while funerals and church services will be capped at 100 people. 

The following information is for NSW specifically and is available on the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney website.

Can I visit a church for private prayer?
Yes, from July 1, churches in NSW are open under the four-square-metre rule.

Can I attend Mass in the Church?
Yes.  From 1 July, churches in NSW are open for Masses under the four-square-metre rule. You must provide your contact details for tracing purposes and you should also register your attendance at the parish. 

Sunday observance and alternative devotions
All but priests continue for the time being to be dispensed from attending Sunday Mass, but those who are at low risk of infection and able to do so are exhorted to take all reasonable steps to attend Sunday Mass. If you are unable to attend, you can keep Sunday holy by setting aside some time for prayer at home, reading the Scriptures of the day, watching Mass on television or online and asking God for the graces you would normally receive in Holy Communion. Priests should celebrate daily Mass privately and offer it on behalf of those who cannot attend and for the whole nation.

Can baptisms be performed?
Yes from July 1, baptisms are allowed under the four-square-metre rule.

What about weddings?
Yes. Weddings may go ahead from July 1, under the four square metre rule.

Am I able to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation?
Yes. First Rite Confessions can be celebrated in the church.

What if a loved one dies? Can I still have a funeral Mass?
Yes, Funerals can take place with unlimited numbers, providing the four square metre rule is observed. If a church is so small that fewer than 50 would be allowed following the 4 square metre rule, up to 50 people may nonetheless attend a funeral.

How about the Anointing of the Sick?
Pastoral care of the sick, frail and elderly should as far as possible be undertaken by clergy. Our priests must follow the guidance of health care facilities, some of which may only allow their own chaplains to minister to those with COVID-19 since they receive intensive training regarding safety protocols. When anointing the sick, priests have been given permission to lay on hands above rather than upon the head to anoint and use a cotton wool ball, cotton bud or a protective glove which can be disposed of after a single use.

What if my child is scheduled to receive First Communion and Confirmation during this time?
Many parishes are expecting to hold these celebrations later this year, subject to the four square metre rule being observed.

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