Yesterday’s announcement from the Province of Ontario allows our churches to re-open for gathered worship indoors, at a space capacity of 15% in Step One, and 25% in Step Two, as part of the government’s three-step “Roadmap to Reopening”. All physical distancing must be maintained, and masks must be worn indoors.
We are grateful that the Government is permitting us to resume indoor worship ahead of its original schedule. Because it has been our stringent protocols that has given the Government the confidence to allow it, our Amber Stage Guidelines will continue as before.
Based on increased knowledge and current understandings of virus transmission, you will see that there are only three changes to the Amber Stage Guidelines since our last revision:
- We are permitting the re-introduction of prayer books and Bibles to the pews. (Hymnals need not be re-introduced as there continues to be no congregational singing.)
- We have relaxed some of our cleaning protocols. Only high-touch areas (doorknobs, hand-railings, elevator buttons, etc.) and washrooms need to be sanitized between each service. Thorough cleaning of the entire space should still happen regularly.
- A Deacon (or server) may assist by clearing the altar after celebrations of Holy Communion.
Guidelines have been created for outdoor worship services. If you are planning to gather your community for outdoor services, please review, initial, sign and re-submit your checklist to your Regional Dean and/or Area Bishop with that section completed.
If you do not plan to gather for outdoor worship, and none of the signatories (priest, churchwardens, responsible volunteers) on your Guidelines checklist have changed since your last submission, you do not need to re-sign and re-submit an Amber Stage Guidelines checklist.
Regardless, please inform your Regional Dean / Area Bishop of your plans regarding re-opening.
Re-opening is a joy and a sign of fresh hope. It is also a lot of work! No parish should feel obliged to re-open before it is comfortable and prepared to do so. If you have any questions about re-opening or the Guidelines, please speak to your Regional Dean or call your Area Office.
May God grant us a safe and peaceful summer, as we move faithfully and carefully towards a gradual return to the fullness of life in the community of the Church.