Please have a look through this summary from Pastoral Relations Minister Judy Hare, which includes both public health orders, and some church-specific resources and considerations.
New Public Health Orders for the Province of Manitoba were announced on August 27th, 2021. Some of these orders came into place on August 28th,2021 (Mask mandate for all indoor public places) and some of the new restrictions are effective September 03, 2021 or September 07,2021 as specified in the actual Orders. These Orders are now posted on the government website. Few things have changed with regard to churches, weddings or funerals except MASKS will be required for all attending and providing leadership for those services held indoors. The exceptions that might apply to church settings explicitly allowed for in section 27 of the orders allow for removal of masks when consuming food or drink (so partaking of communion elements) and when behind a non-permeable barrier (plexiglass). Worship attendance: indoors (50% capacity or 150 persons whichever is greater and outdoors – 500 persons or 50% capacity whichever is the lesser). BUT please be aware that the key is the condition noted “measures are implemented to ensure that persons attending the service are reasonably able to maintain a separation of two metres distance from other persons at the service other than persons who reside at the same private residence.” For many sanctuaries that means a number much lower than either the capacity or number stated above. Number for attendance at weddings and funeral are specified in a separate section but are basically the same as previous Orders and are different than for regular worship even when held in a church building. The current orders have no specific end date on them.
Prairie to Pine Regional Council and its staff have no authority to interpret these Public Health Orders. The governing bodies of communities of faith and their ministry personnel are responsible for interpreting them and getting clarification when and where needed. These Public Health Orders do not clearly cover every activity that we may hold in a church building so some interpretation is required. If you want some assistance with interpreting the orders you can send an email along to the following email address outlining the specifics of your question and noting that you are a faith based community/church: Manitoba Government Inquiry firstname.lastname@example.org
The Public Health Orders are the restrictions that are mandated. Churches (businesses and other locations) can determine their own protocols. Any protocols that you design must adhere to the Public Health Orders but may be stricter than those outlined in the Public Health Orders. There are discussions for example about locations requiring those of eligible age to be fully vaccinated. In response to an inquiry from one of the Ontario-based Regional Councils regarding the issue of vaccinations, the General Council Office issued the following memo in June, 2021
It was shared with Communities of Faith in the Weekly News and on the Prairie to Pine website in June 28, 2021: Advice re United Church Communities of Faith and vaccination policies | Prairie to Pine Regional Council (prairietopinerc.ca)
A small group of General Council staff are working on a response related to issues around requiring ministry personnel to be vaccinated and clarifying who has the authority to implement a vaccination policy. This will be shared as soon as it is available later this month or in October. The governing body of Communities of Faith are the ones who have the authority to set policies related to lay employees.
Public Health Orders for the Province of Ontario
These are step 3 and are available online through: O. Reg. 364/20: RULES FOR AREAS AT STEP 3, and at the ROADMAP EXIT STEP.
Numbers for religious services, weddings and funerals indoors and outdoors are specified in Schedule 3. Masks are still required. The system related to changing these orders is different than that in Manitoba, so Communities of Faith and Ministry Personnel need to stay alert to news releases in your area around any changes to the orders and restrictions. Announcements regarding vaccination passports in the province of Ontario and where those can be used were shared today.
Gathering Information Regarding Re-Opening Protocols (Reply Requested)
When representatives of several communities of faith/pastoral charges in Prairie to Pine Regional Council met on Zoom on the evening of September 07, 2021 the most common question was “What are the churches in the Regional Council doing?” Phone calls to the Regional Council Office from others ask the same questions. It would be helpful for us to be able to share with others comments about what communities of faith/pastoral charges are actually planning or doing especially with regard to worship, other activities including rentals and children’s programing. Please email email@example.com