COVID 19 Update

These guidelines supercede all previous guidelines issued from the Diocese. Legal requirements are subject to change. Details are available at https://coronavirus.tas.gov.au/ and at https://www.worksafe.tas.gov.au/. Every effort is made to ensure that these guidelines are consistent with Government advice and directives. If there is inconsistency, the government directives take precedence.

 

Update: Friday 7 January 2022 (revised Tuesday 11 January)

New Restrictions to be applied from Sunday 9th January 2022

With the increased incidence of Covid-19 cases, including community transmission of Covid-19, in Tasmania phase 2a - Ministries with Children and phase 3 - Public and Group Ministries have been triggered according to our Diocesan Covid Roadmap. The below documents outline ministries that may only be undertaken in person by clergy, church workers, or volunteers, who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 with a vaccine approved for use in Australia by the TGA, unless all the conditions for an exception apply. Where exceptions apply, ministry may occur in person by clergy, church workers, or volunteers who are not fully vaccinated.  The Diocese has adopted the government definition of 'fully vaccinated' being two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine approved for use in Australia by the TGA.  However, encouragement would be given to obtain a booster shot at the earliest opportunity once eligible to do so.

In every case, ministries can be undertaken remotely (online meetings or phone calls) regardless of vaccination status.

Phase 2a - Ministries with Children document found here.

Phase 3 – Public and Group Ministries document found here.

Risk Matrix (workplace - vaccinated and unvaccinated) document found here.

 

Covid-19 FAQs

Previous Updates

Friday 10 December 2021

A letter from the Registrar can be found here on learning to live with Covid-19 in Tasmania. The Roadmap for the reopening of Tasmania on 15 December 2021 can be found here.

 

Update: Monday 20 December 2021

Masks Mandatory in public indoor spaces (including churches)

The Director of Public Health has mandated the wearing of masks in public indoor spaces from 12:01am on Tuesday 21 December. This requirement applies to all our churches, church halls, op shops and other buildings to which the public have access. It does not apply to private residences (e.g. rectories).

The details of the requirements are available at the Tasmanian Government's Coronavirus website. You should note the breadth of the requirement, and the exceptions that are available.

The following exceptions are likely to be relevant for our work:

  • Outdoors - unless attending a large event (>1000 participants).
    Outdoor church events are likely to be unaffected by the mandate. This opens opportunities for morning tea, lunch or other activities. Please note that public health authorities continue to recommend mask wearing outdoors, especially if physical distancing is impracticable.
  • Working, volunteering or studying alone in an indoor space and there is no one else in that space - you must put on a mask if another person enters the space.
    This will be relevant to our office spaces.
  • Consuming food, drink or medicine – replace your mask as soon as you are finished.
    Relevant for the practicalities of receiving communion and/or enjoying morning tea after a service.
  • Clear enunciation, or visibility of the mouth, is essential as part of your employment or training.
    This will be highly relevant to us in church worship settings. Those who need to speak in church (preaching, reading scripture etc) may remove their mask to do so. Those who lead the singing (including in a choir) will likewise be able to remove their masks during the singing. Remember to observe physical distancing. Congregational singing is permissible with a mask on.
  • Children aged under 12.
  • Those with an exemption from a doctor or the Director of Public Health.

The onus to wear a mask is on the individual, not the organisation. You should publicise the requirement to wear a mask (poster resources are available here), and remind people where necessary. However, you are not required to police mask requirements.

 

Covid-19 Safety Plans and Outbreak/Case Management Plans

Please take some time this week to review and update your Covid-19 Safety plan.

You can review the plan that you developed in 2020, adding the necessary new information using this template. If you would like to start from scratch, you can use this template for a new plan.

Please also take the time to work through the development of an Outbreak/Case Management Plan. A template can be found here.

Please send a copy of both plans to registry@anglicantas.org.au for our records.

 

Other public health rules and guidance

Other public health rules (from May 2021) and guidance remain in force - see below for a reminder of these matters from our Diocesan Medical Officer.


 

Revised Public Health Guidelines for Tasmania (May 2021)

1. CHECK-IN TAS APP

Use of this App is now a legal requirement for many places of public concourse, including churches.

Anyone aged 16 years or older who will be in a church or related building for any amount of time is required to register using the Check-in Tas app. If a smart phone is not available to register a person, then a manual record can be made, and should be retained for 28 days.

You have to do your best to encourage or assist people to register using the app. However, if a person refuses to register then any legal consequences fall on that individual. You do not need to refuse entry, although you are entitled to do so if you wish.

 

2. GATHERINGS

Revised regulations for gatherings are:

  • Indoors standing/socialising: limited to no more than 250 persons, including children, or to one person per 2 square metres, whichever is the lesser number. This would include church foyers, halls and meeting spaces.
  • Indoors seated: limited to no more than 250 persons, or up to 100% of seating capacity, whichever is the lesser. This includes most churches. In this situation clergy, staff and assistants can be additional to these limits.

 

3. COVID-SAFE PLANNING

Each meeting venue must continue to have a COVID Safety Plan and a COVID Contact Person responsible for this plan.

The Safety Plan should continue to include a cleaning plan for regular sanitising of surfaces likely to be touched, such as door handles and edges, chair backs, light switches, microphones, etc

Each venue should provide for each attendee to sanitise their hands upon entering.

Each venue must display signage advising people to stay home if they have symptoms of respiratory infection such as cough, sore throat, runny nose or fever, and to observe 1.5 metre social distancing where possible.

 

Specific risks in the Anglican Church setting:

Singing and sharing in communion are two higher risk activities which are important parts of our Anglican tradition.  These are, however, activities where there is a greater risk of aerosol transmission of COVID 19.

1. Singing

Congregational

Congregation members should be reminded to remain at home if they have respiratory symptoms such as cough, sore throat, runny nose or fever.

Adequate ventilation should be in place to allow airflow through the church or meeting centre.

Consideration can be given to limiting the time spent singing during services, either in number or length of hymns and songs.

 

Choirs

Several epidemiological case studies have shown that infected choir members have transmitted COVID 19 to congregational members. Steps can be taken to reduce this risk of spread.

Choirs facing a congregation should stand at least 2 metres away from the audience, but preferably further away than this. Choirs should preferably stand in a semi-circle only one row deep, with 1.5 metre spacings between choristers.

If more than one row of choristers is planned, then there should be a minimum of 1.5 metres between rows of singers.

Choristers should avoid sharing sheet music, pens, etc. with each other.

 

2. Celebration of Holy Communion

Both surface contact spread and aerosol spread of COVID 19 need to be considered when planning the administration and reception of the elements.

One of three forms of distribution are recommended:

  1. Wafers pre-infused with wine (a drop of wine is placed on the wafer and left to dry prior to the service). Distribution as normal with the words: The Body and Blood of Christ keep you in eternal life.
  2. Wafers and individual cups of wine or juice, distributed in the normal manner, with separate words for the bread and the wine.
  3. Pre-packaged wafer and juice, distributed to the seats (by servers with sanitised hands), the bread and wine being consumed in unison with the words being said from the front.

The following points should be taken into consideration:

  • The common cup should not be used except by the celebrant alone.
  • There is no need for communicants to sanitise their hands before receiving.
  • Prior to distribution of the elements, the celebrant may consider using the words of distribution to the whole congregation rather than individually and in close proximity to each communicant.
  • Where possible, communicants should be encouraged to observe 1.5 metre spacing when moving to, whilst at, and when returning from, the communion rail.
  • The celebrant and those assisting with the distribution should either sanitise their hands before distributing the elements or use a pair of tongs to distribute. The use of gloves is not required.

 

Future Restrictions:

Service leaders need to be aware that Public Health directions for gatherings are likely to change if community spread of COVID 19 is detected in Tasmania, and should be ready to change service plans at short notice to comply with any further Public Health directives as they are issued. Check the Tasmanian Government COVID 19 website for current information.

https://www.coronavirus.tas.gov.au/keeping-yourself-safe/gatherings-density-and-physical-distancing

 

Dr Richard Lord
27/5/2021

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