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COVIDSafe religion and ceremonies guidance

Information to assist your place of worship to stay safe and stay open during COVIDSafe settings.

Industry Restart Guidelines

Industry guidelines are being updated to reflect the latest health advice. For more detail on the latest COVIDSafe Settings, please see the Minister for Health’s statement

You can download the factsheet here or read the full information below:

Places of worship may include churches, meeting houses, mosques, synagogues, temples, gurdwaras and other places of worship (using the legal definition in the Vic Heritage Act 2017).

COVIDSafe Plan 

All faith organisations must have a COVIDSafe Plan (see Creating a COVIDSafe Plan). A COVIDSafe Plan applies the six COVIDSafe Principles and sets out actions to help prevent the introduction of coronavirus (COVID-19). Display COVIDSafe signage in appropriate, high visibility locations. You may need to update the plan in the future, as restrictions and advice changes.

Six COVIDSafe Principles 

1. Ensure physical distancing 

All people in the workplace or place of worship should be at least 1.5 metres apart with no crowded areas.  

2. Wear a face mask 

You must adhere to current face mask or other PPE guidelines for your workplace or place of worship. 

3. Practise good hygiene

Venue operators must regularly clean high touch-surfaces and encourage good hygiene practices by attendees. 

4. Keep records and act quickly if attendees become unwell

Faith organisations are strongly recommended to use electronic record keeping (e.g. QR code system) for this purpose. This includes the free Victorian Government’s QR Code Service. Otherwise, attendees must record their details on paper upon entry. Have a strict policy that any attendees who feel unwell must stay at home.

5. Avoid interactions in enclosed spaces 

Where possible, move activities to an outdoor area.

6. Create workforce bubbles 

Limit the number of people that attendees are in prolonged close contact with. 

Guidance for faith leaders

Keep records

Faith organisations must keep a record of all attendees and visitors who attend the place of worship for longer than 15 minutes, including their first name and contact phone number to support contact tracing. This information should be retained for 28 days following the visit. 

Increase ventilation

Wherever possible, move activities outside or to well-ventilated areas and keep doors and windows open to ensure maximum ventilation. 

Prepare your COVIDSafe Plan 

Every place of worship is required to have a COVIDSafe Plan that is regularly updated. 

Faith organisations should consult with attendees and Health and Safety Representatives (if any) on matters that directly affect or are likely to directly affect them.

Prepare a cleaning schedule 

Establish new processes and schedules for cleaning and sanitising to maintain good hygiene, including frequent cleaning of high touch points (see our Cleaning and Sanitising Fact Sheet).

Implement virtual forms of worship

Where possible, services, prayers and other forms of worship may be held virtually.

Physically distance

Limit the number of chairs in communal areas to encourage all people participating in religious gatherings, ceremonies and activities to stay a minimum 1.5 metres from one another. 

Use physical barriers or floor markings to provide minimum physical distancing guides and direct one-way flow where possible. 

Places of worship must adhere to the relevant capacity limits for their industry.

Minimise contact

Modify methods used to receive financial contributions (e.g. using a stationary collection box or electronic methods of collection)

Devotional items may be left in place but must be venerated in ways that do not involve touching or kissing them (such as by bowing or other faith appropriate action). Faith leaders should frequently remind participants to avoid physical contact.

Display signage 

Display signage in high visibility locations (such as entrances), including:

  • The maximum number of people allowed in the room
  • The QR code to register attendance
  • Face mask restrictions where required
  • Information about the symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the need to stay home when unwell
  • Hygiene and physical distancing practices.

Safe ways to celebrate and practice faith

Get tested and stay home if you feel unwell

If you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) you must get tested and stay home.

Stay COVIDSafe

Stay safe by washing your hands regularly, having a face mask with you and wearing it when required, coughing and sneezing into your elbow, and keeping at least 1.5 metres from others.

Food and drink during ceremonies

Where food or drink are essential to the act of worship, they can be used, however the sharing of food must be avoided. Crockery, utensils, vessels or other equipment must not be shared by participants. 

Minimise contact

Participants should avoid sharing items such as prayer mats and service books and are encouraged to bring their own items such as prayer mats, shoe bags and service books.

Greetings and goodbyes

Replace handshakes and hugs with friendly words, a bow or other sign language to minimise contact and maintain at least 1.5 metres physical distance. 

Singing

Singing and chanting in religious settings has been shown to spread the virus. Singing and chanting should occur in well ventilated places or outside where the risk is lower. Adhere to current face mask restrictions while singing.

Reviewed 22 April 2021

Coronavirus Victoria

24/7 Coronavirus Hotline

If you suspect you may have coronavirus (COVID-19) call the dedicated hotline – open 24 hours, 7 days.

Please keep Triple Zero (000) for emergencies only.

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