The federal government units pointers for the resumption of worship
(Photo: Unsplash / David Beale)
The government has defined the precautionary measures that churches must take when they reopen for public worship on July 4.
The guidelines published on Monday contain a number of restrictions on worship. Churches should not sing and should not use instruments to be blown into, although the organ is allowed.
The churches are preparing to resume public worship after opening for private prayers earlier this month.
The guidelines were created with advice from the scientific community and the government's Task Force on Places of Worship, which is composed of faith leaders.
"Places of worship play an important role in providing spiritual guidance for many people and in bringing together communities and generations," it says.
"However, their community character can make them places that are particularly vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19."
Weddings and funerals can continue with up to 30 participants. Community worship can take place with a larger number of people who are subject to strict social distancing.
Religious sites are advised to adapt ceremonies and services so that they are "completed in the shortest possible time". Participants are then "asked to continue immediately to minimize the risk of contact and spread of infection."
"If necessary, you should reconfigure rooms so that worshipers can sit and not stand, which reduces the contact risk," says the instructions.
It is also recommended that places of worship continue to conduct livestream events where possible to avoid large gatherings and "continue to reach people who isolate themselves or who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19".
Churches should use disposable service sheets and devotional materials for 48 hours between uses, or quarantine clean books.
Congregations should not "sing, scream, raise voices and / or play music at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult or encourages screaming".
"This is due to the potential for an increased risk of aerosol and droplet transmission," the guidelines said.
Playing instruments "that are blown in should be explicitly avoided during services or prayer and rehearsals".
"If this is essential to an act of worship, only one person should be allowed to sing or sing, and the use of plexiglass screens should be considered to protect believers from them, as this further prevents transmission and easily cleans the screen the instructions continue.
"If music plays a major role in worship and recordings are available, we recommend that you use them as an alternative to live singing.
"It is recommended that you only play musical instruments that are not blown in. Organs can be played for both religious practices and general maintenance, but should be cleaned thoroughly before and after use."
You can find the complete instructions here