The Province of Manitoba is sharing a clear guide of how regular church activities can operate following COVID-19 regulations.
Manitobans know Sunday services can continue to operate at a 30 per cent capacity with spacing, but some churches have shared with CHVN their difficulties understanding what that means for other regularly-scheduled church activities.
"The main test is, 'is the facility being used for a typical worship service," Minister Cameron Friesen says.
The province says the current regulations for regular church activities outside of a Sunday service are as follows:
- the max capacity of the facility space being used must not exceed 30 per cent
- the area being used must have people physically separated into groups sizes no larger than the region's current gathering limit
- people may not be in close contact with one another
- when entering or leaving the space, people must not come into close contact with one another
All of the above regulations must be followed in conjunction with each other.
Regular church activities allowed to operate under the above guidelines includes Sunday school, youth group, catechism classes, and baptism classes.
Churches can also follow the current size-gathering restrictions in place for their area. Friesen says the guides do not mean churches can do anything they want if they are within the 30 per cent capacity. Any activity happening inside a church outside of usual activity must follow all current gathering size restrictions in their area. The minister says he does not want to see people trying to find their way around complying with current gathering restrictions by using the worship facility's exceptions.
"I think it is very important for churches to be compliant with these rules and acting in a way that is consistent with the spirit of these rules."
Friesen says if a place of worship has questions about guidelines, the province has created a specific outline to use. This PDF is available online. This includes guides on offering baskets and baptisms.
"There are detailed guidelines there for what religious groups must do."
Friesen says if churches have more questions, they can call 204-945-3744 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Manitobans are being reminded to follow the fundamentals of COVID-19 safety by frequently washing their hands, practicing distancing, and to wear a mask if distancing is not possible. Manitobans are asked to not go out if sick.