UPDATE FROM CATHOLIC ARCHDIOCESE OF MELBOURNE REGARDING COVID-19 GUIDELINES
Last updated Ash Wednesday (17 February 2021, Midday)
The following Guidelines are approved by Most Rev Peter A Comensoli, Archbishop of Melbourne, to assist Clergy and Faithful with questions pertaining to specific areas of liturgy and ministry in the Archdiocese of Melbourne during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response to the directives announced by Government as part of its Roadmap for the reopening of the State of Victoria, the following is operational from 11.59pm Wednesday 17 February 2021.
Following a 5-day ‘circuit – breaker’ period of lockdown, Victoria is now returning to the “COVIDSafe Summer” phase, with some small areas of note (see below).
The restrictions in place are compulsory as issued under lawful direction of the Chief Health Officer of Victoria, where a State of Emergency remains in place.
As of 11:59pm Wednesday 17 February 2021:
- All people must carry a fitted face covering when leaving home unless they have a lawful reason not to.
- Fitted face coverings remain mandatory in public indoor spaces and outdoors when people cannot maintain 1.5m physical distancing (unless a lawful exemption applies, and apart from when eating or drinking). If you have visitors in your home, it is strongly recommended that fitted face coverings are worn during the visit.
- The limit on the number of people gathering in a household is 5 in one day, meaning the household members plus 5 visitors (excluding children under 12 months of age). There is no limit on the number of households those people come from. Front and backyards are considered part of the home.
- Up to 20 people can gather outdoors in a public space (beaches, parks etc.) from any number of households. Infants under 12 months are not included in the cap.
- The 50 per cent “return to work” cap in both public and private sectors will be in place until further notice.
- Weddings, funerals and religious gatherings can occur with no limits on the number of guests or attendees, working within density limits. To ensure people can keep 1.5 metres distance the ‘venue’ must apply the two square metre rule. Anything conducted in a private home must apply the gathering limits for private homes of 15 people.
- Record keeping remains an important and critical tool for keeping all in the community safe.
Under no circumstances should anyone awaiting a COVID-19 test verification, including Clergy (even without presenting symptoms) attend a church or parish setting until a diagnosis is confirmed. Additionally, under no circumstances should anyone attend who is closely connected to people who are awaiting test results or who have tested positive.
VICTORIA: COVIDsafe SUMMER
We welcome the further opening up of our places of worship and opportunities for gathering, but remain mindful and respectful that many in our community will be feeling cautious and anxious in coming weeks.
For the time being, all Catholics in Melbourne continue to be dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass until further directed by the Archbishop. We continue to carry the happy obligation to keep Sunday holy, whether we can attend Mass or not, and can do so by any kind of prayer with members of our household and parish, reading holy scripture, and encouraging one another in our faith. Prayerfully watching an online Mass continues to be a great source of comfort on Sundays.