This morning the NSW Moderator, Rev. Andrew Campbell, and I attended a weekly Religious Communities Forum, which comprises representatives from every faith in New South Australia, involving more than 80 participants. The Forum is facilitated by the Acting NSW Minister for Multiculturalism, Dr Geoff Lee, and NSW Health.
Following that meeting we have been expecting to receive a further communication from NSW Health on the topic of singing, which was the main topic this morning.
While we await that communication, I am writing to highlight the key messages from NSW Health, which are outlined in the attached letter from Dr Kerry Chant, NSW Chief Health Officer.
In summary, NSW Health has asked all faiths to ask their congregants not to sing. Through the discussion this morning, it became clear that the NSW government is likely to tighten the current wording in the Public Health Order by replacing the request to “avoid singing” to “not sing”.
The only exception will be a silo singer at the front singing to the congregation from a distance of at least 3 metres.
In response to a number of questions, NSW Health emphasised:
- One person only singing at a time
- No adults singing together
- No singing even with masks
- No singing including children
- No singing even within a family group
Unfortunately, we were left with no doubt that NSW Health will now mandate that no group singing will be allowed, with the only exception being a silo singer at the front.
While the Government understands that most faiths incorporate singing as a key element of their worship services, they are particularly concerned about the current coronavirus outbreaks in Victoria and, increasingly so in New South Wales, as outlined in Dr Chant’s attached letter.
We ask all ministers, home missionaries and church leaders to share this request with their congregations and to abide by this request.
Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions or queries. I am very happy to help explain the reasons behind this request.
For those of our colleagues in the ACT, please refer to ACT Government Public Health directions.
Please share this communication.
Thank you and kind regards,
Jeoffrey R Falls, General Manager, Chief Executive Officer