We are committed to following the NSW Public Health Orders and advice from NSW Health and Multicultural NSW for Religious Places of Worship. The church plays an important leadership role in the community by acting responsibly and following expert advice on the best ways to make our schools, churches, halls and other facilities and ministries safe. Each of our ministry units has a COVID Safe plan in place. However, because of frequently changing restrictions, the guidelines on this page may not reflect the current restrictions, so please check the most recent advice from the Bishop’s Office as well as the latest Public Health Order.
Latest correspondence from the Bishop of Grafton based on the 29 June 2021 Public Health Order:
These are the COVID-19 restrictions as advised on Saturday 26 June for Regional NSW as they apply to Places of Worship. Please keep your COVID Safe Plans up to date.
- Mask wearing compulsory inside. This means you will need to turn away anyone without a mask, without a mask exemption or who is not prepared to wear a mask.
- No singing by the congregation. However, in regional NSW, up to 5 people may sing in a place of public worship. The singers must wear a face mask, keep a distance of at least 1.5 metres from each other and keep a distance of 3 metres from the congregation.
- Use 1 person per 4m2 indoors for calculating how many you can accommodate in a church or other inside space. You can refer to your earlier COVIDSafe Plan for this figure.
- Anyone who has been to a Hotspot or affected venue should not be admitted to church. They should seek the latest advice from the NSW Health website.
COVID Safe Plans and Registering as a COVID Safe Business
- The NSW Government requires that Places of Worship register as a COVIDSafe Business and have a COVIDSafe Plan in place prior to re-opening. The plan must be ready for inspection by NSW Health at all times. Once you have developed your plan it is your responsibility to keep it updated so that it always reflects the current NSW advice.
- To develop a plan, please read the Grafton Diocese guidance notes(A COVIDSafe Plan for Church Premises below). Then develop your plan using the NSW Template for this purpose as provided below (Template for COVIDSafe Plan for Worship Centres). You do not have to use the Government Template but please make sure you address all the points they want you to cover. The plan must be ready for inspection by NSW Health at all times.
- You need a separate plan for each worship centre. When registering as a COVIDSafe Business, you need to register each worship centre separately (only register centres that are open for Public Worship). See below for Op Shops, Soup Kitchens and Coffee Shops.
- Once your plan is ready, please complete the Re-Opening Application Form below and submit it to the Bishops Registry. You need a separate application form for each worship centre.
- Do not re-open any of your worship centres to the public until your application to re-open is approved
- Once the Bishop (or his delegate) has approved your application to open, you must register as a COVIDSafe Business at this link. Register using the parish’s ABN: https://www.nsw.gov.au/register-your-business-as-covid-safe
- Every Worship Centre, Op Shop, Parish Office, Church Hall needs to have a bar code so that people can check in using the NSW Check In App. Use the same bar code for each facility (ie one bar code per ABN).
- We have been advised by NSW Health that Op Shops now need a COVIDSafe Plan. See the Template below for Retail Outlets. However, you do not need to apply to the Bishop to re-open an Op Shop. This is a local decision. Before reopening, you must register your Op Shop as a COVIDSafe Business (using either the Op Shop’s ABN or the parish’s ABN) at this link: https://www.nsw.gov.au/register-your-business-as-covid-safe
- We have been advised by NSW Health that Soup Kitchens and Coffee Shops need a COVIDSafe Plan. Use the Template for COVIDSafe Plan for Restaurants and Cafes provided below. The decision about re-opening a Soup Kitchen (or similar) is a local one (do not submit an application form). Even if you are providing “take away only” you still need to register and develop a plan. To register your Soup Kitchen or Coffee Shop as a COVIDSafe Business use this link: https://www.nsw.gov.au/register-your-business-as-covid-safe
- Parish Offices and Church Halls are covered by the same COVIDSafe Business registration as the worship centre at the same location. The COVIDSafe Plan for the Worship Centre can cover the Parish Office and Church Hall. However, a template for a COVIDSafe Plan for Halls is provided below should you wish to develop a dedicated one. You do not need to apply to re-open the Parish Office or Church Hall because this is a local decision