Following the National Cabinet meeting on May 8 which aimed to develop a road to recovery, the Queensland government has provided further details on how the state will start easing restrictions for types of group gatherings.
Further details on the roadmap can be found here, but as a summary, the following preliminary steps are to be implemented by the Queensland Government should our public health situation allow it:
- Step 1 (from 15 May 2020): Gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed for outdoor activities and 30 people for outdoor funerals. Gatherings within homes will only allow for a maximum of 5 people and indoor funerals will only permit 20 people.
- Step 2 (from 12 June 2020): Gatherings of up to 20 people are allowed, including homes and other indoor and outdoor areas. Funerals will allow for 50 people to attend.
- Step 3 (from 10 July 2020): Gatherings of up to 100 people are allowed, for all indoor and outdoor areas/activities.
Current Restrictions on Churches
In line with this announcement, the Chief Health Officer of Queensland Dr Jeannette Young has provided further detail in how Step 1 will be implemented throughout different organisations in Queensland. The Non-Essential Business, Activity and Undertaking Closure Direction (No. 10) outlines how places of worship, including churches must operate as at 11:59pm 15 May 2020:
- Weddings with a maximum attendance of 10 people (in addition to the couple and celebrant) are allowed
- Funerals with 20 people indoors and 30 people outdoors (in addition to a maximum of 3 people who may conduct the funeral service) are allowed, except if an exemption is granted on compassionate grounds by the Chief Health Officer. It is clarified that the maximum number of people attending a funeral will be determined by whether it is indoors or outdoors. This means that 30 outdoor guests cannot be in addition to 20 indoor guests.
- Private worship or small religious ceremonies at a place of worship with a maximum attendance of 10 people
- Live streaming of a wedding, funeral or other service may be conducted with the maximum number of people outlined above
All gatherings must strictly adhere to the following requirements, in accordance to social distancing practice:
- Keeping 1.5 metres between people must be accommodated, implemented and monitored
- No more than one person per 4 square metres
- Importantly, contact information must be kept about all guests and staff for contact tracing purposes, including name, address and mobile phone number for a period of at least 28 days. If requested, this information must be provided to public health officers. The information should be securely stored, not used for any other purpose and deleted after 28 days.
As of writing this article (18 May 2020), the directions from the Chief Health Officer outline the current restrictions imposed on churches. In such times, it can be difficult to adhere to these restrictions especially for ceremonies such as weddings and funerals. The silver lining lies in the consistency with which these directions follow the road map provided by the Queensland Government. As the latest directions are in line with Step 1 of the road map, it is likely (so far as our public health scenario allows) that further directions will continue to reduce restrictions.
Do you need a path forward to coincide with easing restrictions?
For advice on how your church or organisation should navigate the current COVID-19 restrictions, please feel free to contact our expert team. For further updates on COVID-19, follow our article posts here.
Author: James Tan