COVID-19 – Weekly Updates for Churches

Weekly Updates As Australia and Queensland start to take steps to “re-open” following extensive restrictions. The purpose of this article is to provide churches with the latest relevant weekly updates to ensure churches remain adequately informed.

Over the past several months, restrictions given at the direction of the Queensland Government has impacted many businesses, organizations, and institutions. One of these institutions impacted are churches. Churches have been restricted to gather in accordance with the directions given by the Chief Health Officer of Queensland, Dr Jeannette Young.  

Despite this, restrictions have proven to be paying off. The rate of infection has been significantly reduced, and as a result, Queenslanders are beginning to see the easing of restrictions. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on her media address on 26 April 2020 announced the easing of restrictions beginning on 2 May 2020:  

“Because we have done such a terrific job of flattening the curve, after discussions with the Chief Health Officer, from next Friday we will be able to lift some of the stay-at-home restrictions,” Ms Palaszczuk said.  

With the easing of restrictions, Ms Palaszczuk continues to intend to watch “the number of cases closely” to clamp back at any “first sign of a spike”. Queenslanders are encouraged to enjoy the easing of restrictions but are urged to continue following relevant rules with specific attention to social distancing measures. 

Given the current status of the pandemic’s spread in Queensland, it is entirely possible that there may be an easing of restrictions relevant to churches allowing them to go back into normal operation. As the law continues to change and develop around gatherings and restrictions, this page aims to provide churches with the latest updates that may be relevant. 

Current status for churches 

Just to recap on the current status for churches, the current status for churches have pre-dominantly remained the same since 9 April 2020.1 In accordance with the latest directions given under Non-Essential Business, Activity and Undertaking Closure Direction (No.8) provided by Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young, places of worship must continue to remain closed. This is subject to the exceptions listed under paragraph 8 column 2. An exception may apply to churches where gatherings of a maximum of 5 people are made for the purpose of conducting live-streaming services. Social distancing of practices must continue to be followed. 

The penalties for breaching these rules have also remain the same in accordance with s 362D of the Public Health Act 2005 providing breach of public health directions may result in a maximum of 100 penalty units; which is equivalent to $13,345. A reasonable excuse may be given to escape liability.  

If there are any new updates relevant to churches, we’ll ensure provide the latest updates on a weekly basis.  

Written By James Tan & Ervin Hii (student placement)

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