New COVID restrictions in places of worship from midnight tonight

MESSAGE TO MINISTERS, HOME MISSIONARIES, SESSION CLERKS, TREASURERS, COM SECRETARIES AND OTHER STAKEHOLDERS IN THE GREATER SYDNEY REGION (INCLUDING WOLLONGONG, CENTRAL COAST AND BLUE MOUNTAINS)

Dear all,

This is an urgent update for churches conducting church services tomorrow.  The NSW Premier has just announced a number of changes to coronavirus restrictions, including mandatory wearing of masks and reduced capacity in places of worship.

Ms Berejiklian confirmed wearing masks would be mandatory in several indoor venues from midnight tonight in Greater Sydney.  She said this would include places of worship.

The mandatory mask rule will be enforced by a $200 fine, but a grace period will be in effect until Monday.

NSW Health said children under 12 will be exempt but are “encouraged to wear masks where practicable”.

The Premier has also announced the following reduced capacity in places of worship and religious services from midnight tonight:

  • limited to 1 person per 4sqm up to a maximum of 100 people per separate area.
  • weddings and funerals limited to 1 person per 4sqm up to a maximum of 100 people.

Restrictions in the northern zone of the Northern Beaches will remain in place until January 9 and continues to be subjected to stay-at-home orders. Residents in the northern peninsula are still not permitted to have visitors to their home and places of worship remain closed.

Whilst these measures do not apply to areas outside Greater Sydney (including Wollongong, Central Coast and Blue Mountains), the Premier has urged all residents and visitors across the State to practise COVID safe behaviours and get tested even if symptoms are mild.

Kind regards,
Jeoffrey R Falls
General Manager | Chief Executive Officer


Dear all,

Further to my update above, while we are trying to clarify with NSW Health I believe that the mandatory wearing of masks applies:

  • only while attending the church service indoors; and
  • excludes the service leaders (minister, prayer leader, bible reader and up-to-5 singers upfront), subject to those people being at least 5 metres from the congregation.

I will advise further if we receive contradictory advice from NSW Health or the NSW Government.

I confirm these new measures do not apply to areas outside Greater Sydney (including Wollongong, Central Coast and Blue Mountains).  If you are unsure whether your church falls within these restricted areas, please contact your local Council or contact NSW Health or Service NSW.

I take this opportunity to affirm our church’s view on singing, irrespective of where your church is located in New South Wales.  Due to the recent frequency of changing restrictions, the NSW Health website currently has several contradictions, in particular about singing.

The statement that we as a church are relying on is found here.

In other words, we understand that “the audience should not participate in singing or chanting indoors” applies to all churches in New South Wales, not just in Greater Sydney.

Please note that this relates only to churches in New South Wales, and our colleagues in the ACT will need to continue to refer to ACT Government Public Health directions.

We are sorry for these continuing changes affecting our churches, and we pray that coronavirus infections do not continue to expand across Greater Sydney or New South Wales.

Kind regards,
Jeoffrey R Falls
General Manager | Chief Executive Officer