This Christmas, churches will be able to have services of various sizes, depending on vaccination statuses and cohort capabilities.
Many pastors have been reaching out, seeking clarifications on the new public health orders after two subsections appear to contradict each other.
For unvaccinated people, Order 21 under Places of Worship says in subsection 2 that 25 people or a 25 per cent capacity is the maximum for a place of worship. In the next line under the same order, it says there is a maximum of 250 people, in cohorts of 25 people or less, with a 25 per cent capacity limit if people can separate and distance.
Services limited to fully vaccinated people can operate at 50 per cent capacity.
When reaching out to clarify the orders, an email with the health orders attached said to check a clarification send out after 7:30 p.m. on Monday.
"Faith-based gatherings are limited to 50 per cent capacity with proof of vaccination or 25 per cent capacity or a total of 25 people, whichever is lower, when proof of vaccination is not required," the clarification says. "Cohorts may be implemented where groups can be physically divided up to a maximum of 10 cohorts or 250 people."
Places of worship of all capacity sizes can have a maximum of 50 per cent capacity if all attendees have proof of being fully vaccinated.
Orders for places of worship where not all attendees born before January 1, 2010 have proof of being fully vaccinated include:
- if a place of worship has a capacity of 100 people or fewer, they can have a maximum of 25 per cent capacity
- if a place of worship has a capacity of more than 100 people, there is a maximum of 250 people or a 25 per cent capacity, whichever is lower. They can have up to 10 cohorts with up to 25 people in each cohort, depending on the capacity limits.
Religious services can only be held in a church, mosque, synagogue, temple or other places of worship if the service follows the orders.