FAQs for Faith-based Activities under the Industry Plan for Places of Worship
- If a priest, volunteer, or employee has one or more of the following symptoms– a fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, fatigue and/or loss of smell or taste, what should they do?
If a priest, volunteer, or employee has one or more of the following symptoms– a fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, fatigue and/or loss of smell or taste, what should they do?
If experiencing any of these symptoms, no matter how mild or severe, they should contact their doctor by phone immediately to get tested for COVID-19.
- What happens once a person gets tested?
What happens once a person gets tested?
The person must self-isolate after being tested, going straight home without making any stops. Do not return to the workplace/parish while awaiting results.
- What happens if their test result is positive?
What happens if their test result is positive?
If the result is positive, they will receive a call from a public health unit which will tell them what to do next. They will need to remain in self-isolation until they recover.
- What happens if their test result is negative?
What happens if their test result is negative?
If the result is negative, the doctor or the clinic that tested them will let them know. The person should stay home until their symptoms have resolved.
In the case that a person has been in contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 they must stay in self-quarantine for 14 days even if the COVID-19 test result is negative.
- What gatherings are allowed under the Industry Plan?
What gatherings are allowed under the Industry Plan?
‘Places of Worship’ in the Industry Plan refers to those places where people gather to conduct religious ceremonies or other faith-based activities. This reference includes Masses, Baptisms, Confirmations, First Communions, youth ministry gatherings, Alpha gatherings, music rehearsals and other faith-based events or programs.
- Does the maximum number of people at a gathering include the Priest?
Does the maximum number of people at a gathering include the Priest?
Yes, the Priest, musicians, the camera operator (if livestreaming) and anyone else in attendance are included in the maximum occupancy number.
- How many people can attend a Mass or faith-based activity?
How many people can attend a Mass or faith-based activity?
A maximum occupancy of 1 person per 2 square metres is permitted. Physical distancing is to be observed to the extent possible. This means that people should try to distance as much as they can while adhering to the current occupancy restriction of one person per 2 square metres. It may be challenging to achieve 1.5 metre physical distancing at full capacity, but people should distance as much as practically possible in these situations. People living in the same household are not required to physically distance from each other.
- Can the Parish Priest celebrate weekday Masses with the maximum number of people?
Can the Parish Priest celebrate weekday Masses with the maximum number of people?
All Masses, weekday or weekend may now be celebrated with a maximum number of people in attendance based on the 1 person per 2 square metre rule occupancy.
- Do we still need to physical distance using the 1.5m rule?
Do we still need to physical distance using the 1.5m rule?
The Queensland Government has advised that the 1.5 metre social distancing rule is highly recommended. We are required to try to keep people as close to the 1.5 metre distance as reasonably possible while strictly adhering to the 1 person per 2 square metres occupancy.
Key areas where health authorities highly recommend that you maintain the 1.5 metre distance is:
- at entries and exits
- among vulnerable people including the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions.
- Can attendees be added to the occupancy by using the narthex, entrance area or attached room for overflow?
Can attendees be added to the occupancy by using the narthex, entrance area or attached room for overflow?
No, the occupancy is a maximum amount for the worship gathering, it doesn’t change if you spread people in other sections of the same space.
- May other spaces be used for overflow for liturgies to accommodate more people, such as live-streaming the Mass into another location?
May other spaces be used for overflow for liturgies to accommodate more people, such as live-streaming the Mass into another location?
Parishes may invite parishioners to view the Mass together in other locations as long as the venue is a space such as a parish hall that would normally be used for faith-based activities (such as youth group meetings, childrens’ liturgies, etc).
- When do I need to complete a COVID Safe Event Checklist?
When do I need to complete a COVID Safe Event Checklist?
A COVID Safe Event Checklist is required when we use venues such as church carparks, school undercofts, multi-purpose buildings or sports ovals as these are not covered under the Industry Plan. (https://www.covid19.qld.gov.au/government-actions/covid-safe-events)
An event checklist only needs to be submitted for approval to Queensland Health should the attendance of the event exceed 1,500 (for an outdoor event). For events with less than 1500 people, simply complete the event checklist and have a copy of this available at the event.
- What is defined as an outdoor event?
What is defined as an outdoor event?
An outdoor area
- has fixed or temporary boundaries
- is not fully enclosed, i.e. is open to the elements and natural ventilation (a significant amount of natural and unrestricted air movement is required for most of the time the area is in use
- may include a veranda, balcony, deck, patio, or similar structure that might be connected to an external wall of a building
- may have a roof, awning or eave
- may include a rotunda, tarpaulin or shade structure in a larger open space.
An outdoor area does not include:
- atriums internal to a building, internal courtyards or similar
- a temporary or permanent marquee, unless marquee walls are lifted for the duration of the event
- a tent, e.g. a circus tent or performance tent
- Can we perform Ministry to the Sick in their homes?
Can we perform Ministry to the Sick in their homes?
Ministry to the sick in their homes can be performed under the following conditions:
- a register of the name of who has performed the ministry, the location visited and the date and time of the visit is maintained within the parish
- the volunteer or worker must have completed a COVID-19 Checklist for Vulnerable and High Risk Workers (located on AI here)
- the volunteer or worker must not be displaying any symptoms of COVID-19
- the residents of the home must not be displaying symptoms of COVID-19
- the volunteer or worker must have received a current flu vaccination
- all sanitising and social distancing protocols are adhered to
- the residents of the home have not been advised by QLD Health to self-isolate
- Can we provide ministry within aged care facilities
Can we provide ministry within aged care facilities
Yes, you can provide ministry within aged care facilities in line with their organisation requirements and you must abide by their industry plan requirements. It is recommended you call the facility ahead of time to discuss any special conditions.
- Do we need to provide hand washing facilities?
Do we need to provide hand washing facilities?
Handwashing facilities should be provided with clear running water, liquid soap, and paper towels. If handwashing facilities are not available, provide appropriate hand sanitiser. Hand sanitiser should be available at the entry and within the church for attendees and staff to apply themselves.
- Can we still pass the collection plate from person to person?
Can we still pass the collection plate from person to person?
At this time collection plates cannot be passed from person to person. Donations must be left in a dedicated contact-free area such as a leave-in collection where parishioners may drop their gift in the offertory basket upon leaving the church.
- How should priests distribute Holy Communion in line with social distancing guidelines?
How should priests distribute Holy Communion in line with social distancing guidelines?
The priest should instruct people to distance themselves as they process to the altar. Avoid direct physical contact where possible and limit contact to hands. The priest should cleanse his hands with hand sanitiser before and after distributing communion.
In the Ordinary Form of the Latin Rite, the Body of Christ should be administered only in the hand and the chalice should be received by the celebrant alone.
- Is singing permitted?
Is singing permitted?
Yes, singing is permitted with the same distancing guidelines applying to all attendees.
- Can hymn books be used?
Can hymn books be used?
At this time hymn books should not be available for parishioners to use. However, a possible solution is to provide individual hymn books to parishioners to take home each week which limits contact from multiple people.
- What are the rules for funerals and weddings?
What are the rules for funerals and weddings?
Funerals and weddings can occur with a maximum of 200 people. The maximum number is based on the size of the church, and as such is still governed by your occupancy under the 1 person per 2 sqm rule. (For example, if the maximum capacity is 84 people then the maximum number of attendees for a wedding or funeral would be 84, including the presider.) Social distancing of 1.5 metres should be followed where possible.
The 200 person limit includes the persons conducting the service. Contact details must be taken. Queensland Health protocols for funerals can be found linked here.
- Can the same funeral have mourners inside and out to increase the number?
Can the same funeral have mourners inside and out to increase the number?
No, you cannot combine the numbers, the occupancy is per gathering and cannot be increased by having attendees inside and outside for the same funeral.
- Are parishioners over 70 welcome to attend Mass, confession or private prayer?
Are parishioners over 70 welcome to attend Mass, confession or private prayer?
The parish’s duty of care is to make the church environment as safe as possible. It is up to the individual as to whether they choose to follow public health advice and attend worship services or not. They are advised to stay home if they are sick.
- What is the role of the ‘marshal’?
What is the role of the ‘marshal’?
In the case of private prayer at Church, the marshal:
- Welcomes visitors and remind them of social distancing and hygiene procedures.
- Ensures that in entry and exit areas that visitors/parishioners stay 1.5 metres apart from other where possible.
- Collects visitors’ contact details including full name, email address, (residential address if email not available) phone number, date and time of visit. These records must be stored securely and retained for at least 56 days.
In the case of Mass, the marshal should have the list of pre-booked parishioners and check off their name as they arrive. If space is available and visitors arrive without pre-booking, their name and contact details must be collected on the list and stored.
- Can a person over 70 serve as a volunteer marshal or money counter?
Can a person over 70 serve as a volunteer marshal or money counter?
At this time, considering the exposure to other parishioners, it is highly recommended that only volunteers under the age of 70, who are in good health, are asked to serve in the role of marshal or money counter.
For those parishes which are unable to recruit volunteers who meet these criteria then additional control conditions can be arranged to provide an individual over 70 years of age to serve as marshal. In this case, all of the following conditions would need to be met:
- the individual has no chronic medical conditions or a compromised immune system
- the individual agrees to wear a mask, provided by the parish, at all times while completing marshal duties
- the individual maintains a distance of 1.5 metres from others at all times
- a Perspex screen is provided by the parish and placed in front of the volunteer · the Checklist for Vulnerable and High Risk Workers should be completed and signed
- When can we re-open for morning tea?
When can we re-open for morning tea?
At this stage, you can facilitate refreshments (food, tea and coffee) as long as you comply with the Food Services Industry Plan found here, ensure there is no self-service or buffet style food, and participants are seated.
- Do money counters need gloves and masks when counting?
Do money counters need gloves and masks when counting?
Money counters are required to wear gloves and remain 1.5 metres apart from each other. Masks are not required.
- When can we start renting out the parish hall again?
When can we start renting out the parish hall again?
You can now resume hiring out your parish hall to external groups. However, these groups must comply with either a specific Industry Plan or if they do not have a specific industry plan then they must complete a COVID Safe Checklist: Voluntary. Once you have received these plans please forward to the WHS team for review and final approval.
- When can we re-open the Parish Op Shop or similar?
When can we re-open the Parish Op Shop or similar?
Parish Op Shops and other non-worship related activities similar activities fall under a different Industry Plan appropriate for that activity. Industry Plans can be found here.
- Do the COVID-19 Church Cleaning Guidelines need to be signed by contractors or volunteers?
Do the COVID-19 Church Cleaning Guidelines need to be signed by contractors or volunteers?
Any person completing cleaning in the parish, whether they are contractors, parish staff or volunteers need to sign the COVID-19 Church Cleaning Guidelines. This signed document must be recorded in the Parish (there is not requirement to forward to the WHS team for approval).
- What is the requirement for youth groups and children’s liturgies?
What is the requirement for youth groups and children’s liturgies?
The same density requirements apply depending on the venue size. Children from the same household are not required to physically distance.
- Do contact details need to be collected for outdoor Masses, such as a Christmas Mass?
Do contact details need to be collected for outdoor Masses, such as a Christmas Mass?
Yes. Queensland Health has specifically directed that when conducting outdoor worship events parishes should consider options to channel foot traffic in order for contact details can be collected. Contact details must be recorded for event attendees wherever possible, as this will assist in facilitating contact tracing should an individual test positive for COVID-19. Records must be kept for 56 days and include name, phone number, email address (residential address if no email), and the date and time period of attendance.