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 advice which applies from Monday 18 October
Churches in Grafton Diocese are open for Public Worship with the following restrictions, provided that the Local Government Area in which they are situated is not subject to a Stay at Home Order.
For detailed advice, see the Bishop’s Letter https://www.graftondiocese.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/COVID-19-Update-for-the-Period-Commencing-18-October.pdf
- People may attend Public Worship regardless of their vaccination status
- Attendance at weddings is only limited by the one person per 4 square metre rule. If an unvaccinated person is present, attendance is capped at five. This requires that churches ascertain the vaccination status of guests.
- Attendance at funerals is only limited by the one person per 4 square metre rule. If an unvaccinated person is present, attendance is capped at ten. This requires that churches ascertain the vaccination status of guests.
- Churches and places of worship are subject to the one person per 4sqm rule, with no congregational singing. If you are offering refreshments during or after worship, please comply with the government instructions: eating and drinking only while seated.
- Masks must be worn indoors in public places
- Up to 10 fully vaccinated singers may perform in places of worship and at religious services
- Schools operate with Level 3 COVIDSafe measures in place
Great care should be taken to adhere to the restrictions to ensure that we provide a safe environment for everyone.
All COVID Safe Plans should be reviewed, updated and ready for inspection by NSW Health if requested.
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