Thank you for the care and attention you have given to an ever-evolving situation. It is difficult to face another round of uncertainty with the increase in Covid cases and the spread of the Omicron variant. Some communities of faith are re-examining their policies and re-considering their plans for Advent and Christmas.
As a starting point, check with your local health unit. Each health unit sets regulations based on transmission rates in their jurisdiction. Many health units have specific guidelines for worship including rules for singing, communion and masking of worship leaders.
To date, the provincial guidelines that came into effect on October 25th and were communicated in the October 26th regional council newsletter remain in effect:
Worship and Religious Rites
For worship and religious rites, communities of faith can either:
1) continue to welcome unvaccinated people provided that social distancing and capacity limits are followed OR
2) require proof of vaccination and lift social distancing and capacity limits.
Screening of attendees needs to continue.
The Medical Officer of Health has urged vulnerable people to avoid gatherings so please consider what on-line options might be provided for those who are not comfortable attending in-person worship.
Medical Care, Food, Medical Supplies
Proof of vaccination is not necessary. These are the only exemptions in the provincial legislation although some health units have reportedly also exempted AA and other 12 Step Program meetings. Please confirm with your local health unit.
Any Other Church Event, i.e. Meetings, U.C.W., etc.
These are indoor meetings and events and require proof of vaccination. Please make sure all attendees are screened in advance and provide proof of vaccination.
Tenants and Renters
Tenants covered by a lease are themselves responsible for complying with the legislation. The governing body may want to confirm with the tenant how they are complying with the legislation since as landlords they may have some liability risk.
One-off rentals may be the responsibility of the church. Churches should stipulate in any one-off rental contracts that the renter is responsible for complying with all COVID-restrictions then in place, including verifying vaccinations, as required.
Holding communities of faith and their ministry personnel in prayer as they face another round of decisions and remembering that, as Luke recounts the birth of Jesus, that was also a time of chaos and uncertainty. In this unsettled time, may you experience the wonder, hear the angel choir, and come upon Christ with us. God be with you.
EXECUTIVE MINISTER, ANTLER RIVER WATERSHED, WESTERN ONTARIO WATERWAYS AND HORSESHOE FALLS REGIONAL COUNCILS