COVID Restrictions as of 23 October 2020
NSW Government COVID-19 restrictions from Friday 23 October 2020
From Friday 23 Ocober, the number of parishioners at one time allowed to attend Mass and enter a place of worship dependant on the size of the church with 1 person per 4 square meters allowed, and is capped at 300 people.The limit on people attending funerals remains at 100 and the number of people allowed to attend weddings is 150.
PLEASE NOTE: the number of people allowed to attend a place of worship is still determined by the 1 person per 4 square meter rule. This means there is no change to the number of people allowed to attend Mass in most churches in the Diocese, due to the size of the church building. The exceptions are St Raphael's, Cowra now able to all 140 people; St Brigid's, Dubbo, now able to accommodate 200 people; and St Joseph's, Orange, now able to allow 120 people.
The NSW Government strongly recommends the WEARING OF FACE MASKS at places of worship. Bishop Michael encourages parishioners to seriously consider the Government advice and wear a mask when attending Mass or a church building for private prayer.
Please be aware that we are still in a time of pandemic and given limitations on the number of people who can attend Mass, the dispensation issued by Bishop Michael McKenna in relation to our Sunday obligation is still in effect. Online Sunday and daily Masses will still be available in some parishes.
As these regulations change, so will the arrangements to allow as many worshippers as possible to attend Mass in a safe manner. Please keep checking this site to ensure you have the most up to date information.
Directives for all churches and liturgies from 23 October 2020 until further notice:
- Current regulations should be posted near church doors and on websites, social media platforms etc.
- For the time being, Holy Communion may be distributed on the hand only; the Chalice is reserved for the priest.
- Churches in the Diocese of Bathurst will open at times published and, subject to distancing requirements, may have the number of people allowed determine be the size of the church, with 1 person per 4 square meters allowed. Check with your parish in relation to how many people can attend parish churches for private prayer, Confessions, Masses, Funerals, Weddings, Eucharistic Adoration, Rosary in common.
- At-risk parishioners have been exhorted not to attend: authorities have directed that any unwell priest, staff member, volunteer or parishioner stay away; they recommend that people with co-morbidities (e.g. compromised immune or respiratory systems) and those over 70 years of age/elderly exercise particular caution.
- Although Masses have resumed, many of the faithful will be unable to attend and so all are dispensed from attending Sunday Mass.
- On entering the church, each attendee’s contact details should be recorded (name and phone number or email address) and the attendee should certify that they are not unwell or high risk; no record should be kept of why the person entered the church and your personal details will not be used for any other purpose.
- Previous instructions on spatial distancing still apply and have been amplified: Pews will be marked where people should sit on every second row and at least 1 1⁄2m from each other in all directions so that at least 4 square metres is allowed for each person; other pews/seats might be removed or cordoned off; similar notices should be placed on pews outside confessionals; people should be directed to maintain spatial distancing when queueing to enter or leave church, for Holy Communion or Confession; spatial distancing should also be observed by ministers in the sanctuary.
- Previous instructions on maximising hygiene still apply.
- Because of possible risk of aerosol transmission, congregational singing is prohibited at this time; a cantor or small choir should provide the music if any (or a recording where this is not possible); any singer(s) should be positioned at least 3 metres away from the congregation and each other.
- Celebrants and people should minimize the time they are gathered together.
- Alternatives to passing collection plates include a plate left at each door with clarity about its purpose, tap-and-go plates, and encouragement to use direct debit are alternative options.
- Previous advice on the pastoral care and practical support for elderly and shut-in parishioners, live-streaming of Masses, on-line prayer groups, discussion groups, youth groups and catechesis, parish websites and e-bulletins, continues to apply; the various online resources available through the Diocese previously advised continue to be available.