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Religion and ceremony

Find information about how COVIDSafe Summer restrictions affect religion and ceremony, including weddings and funerals, in Victoria.

What does this mean I can do?

From 11.59pm, Sunday 17 January 2021, face masks will no longer be mandatory in all public indoor settings. 

These requirements are in line with settings that were in place at Christmas time. 

Face masks continue to be mandatory in the following locations: 

  • on public transport
  • when riding in a ride share or taxi
  • in large retail stores (over 2000 sqm), such as department stores, electronics stores, furniture stores, hardware stores or supermarkets
  • inside shopping centres, including the retail stores inside shopping centres, such as clothing stores
  • inside indoor markets
  • on domestic flights to and from Victoria
  • at airports
  • in hospitals
  • when working in or visiting hospitals and care facilities.

You must carry a face mask with you at all times when you leave home, unless you have a lawful reason not to.

Following reduced exposure risk and continued low community transmission, from 11:59pm on Friday 22 January the number of visitors to your home increases from 15 to 30.

  • Religious gatherings can be held indoors or outdoors. Venues must apply the two square metre rule to ensure people have enough room to maintain 1.5 metres distance between them. There are no group limits. While attending a religious gathering there are steps you need to take to keep yourself and others safe including not sharing food, drink or other items. The two square metre rule can be used only if electronic record keeping is used, otherwise, the four square metre rule applies. The square metre rule doesn’t include babies under 12 months of age.
  • Funerals can be held indoors or outdoors. The venue must apply the two square metre rule to ensure people have enough room to maintain 1.5 metres distance between them. There are no group limits. The square metre rule doesn’t include babies under 12 months of age. The two square metre rule can be used only if electronic record keeping is used. Otherwise, the four square metre rule applies.
  • Weddings can be held indoors or outdoors. The venue must apply the two square metre rule to ensure people have enough room to maintain 1.5 metres distance between them. There are no group limits. The square metre rule includes the couple, the celebrant, and photographer, but not other workers such as catering staff or babies under 12 months. The two square metre rule can be used only if electronic record keeping is used. Otherwise, the four square metre rule applies.

For weddings, funerals and religious gatherings, if a service is conducted in a private home, the private gathering limit applies (30 visitors). You should not attend a wedding, funeral or religious gathering if you are feeling unwell. Stay home and get tested.

COVIDSafe Summer restrictions

The following restrictions apply:

  • Weddings can be held indoors or outdoors. The venue must apply the two square metre rule to ensure people have enough room to maintain 1.5 metres distance between them. There are no limits on the size of groups. The square metre rule includes the couple, the celebrant, and photographer, but not other workers such as catering staff. The two square metre rule is the only limit on the number of people who can attend, this rule only if electronic record keeping is used. Otherwise, the four square metre rule applies.
  • Funerals can be held indoors or outdoors. The venue must apply the two square metre rule to ensure people have enough room to maintain 1.5 metres distance between them. There are no limits on the size of groups.  The two square metre rule is the only limit on the number of people who can attend, only if electronic record keeping is used. Otherwise, the four square metre rule applies.
  • A wedding or funeral held in a private residence is limited to the members of the household and up to 30 visitors. The people required to conduct the ceremony are not included in this limit as they are attending for the purposes of work.
  • A venue can have indoor or outdoor religious gatherings at the same time. Ceremonial participants other than faith leaders are included in the two square metre rule.
  • You should not attend a wedding, funeral or religious gathering if you are feeling unwell. Stay home and get tested.
  • You must carry a face mask with you at all times when you leave home, unless you have a lawful reason not to. It is strongly recommended that you wear a face mask outdoors when you cannot maintain 1.5 metres distance from other people.

If you are a faith leader or conduct ceremonies, you can find more information in the religion and ceremonies sector guidelines.

What actions do I need to take to stay safe?

Everyone has a role to play in slowing the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Before you leave home:

  • if you feel unwell and have any symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) stay home, seek medical advice and  get tested. Stay home while you wait for your test result 
  • you must carry a face mask at all times when you leave home, unless you have a lawful exemption. 

When you are out of the home:

  • check in when you arrive at a venue or place of worship
  • do not share food, drink or other items
  • wash or sanitise your hands regularly
  • cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow
  • wear a fitted fitted face mask outdoors when you cannot maintain 1.5 metres distance from other people
  • keep at least 1.5 metres distance between yourself and others
  • wash your hands when you get home.

Can I attend a funeral?

Yes, you can attend a funeral.

  • The venue you hold a funeral in must apply the two square metre rule. This means the limit on the number of people who can attend a funeral is determined by the size of the venue. The two square metre rule applies only if electronic record keeping is used. Otherwise, the four square metre rule applies.
  • There are no group limits. The square metre rule doesn’t include the people required to conduct the funeral if it is taking place in a private residence, otherwise they are included in the density limit.
  • A funeral held in a private residence will be limited to the members of the household and up to 30 visitors. The people required to conduct the ceremony are not included in this limit as they are attending for the purposes of work.
  • You can have speeches, singing and chanting at a funeral. 
  • You must carry a face mask with you at all times when you leave home, unless you have a lawful reason not to. 
  • It is strongly recommended that you wear a face mask while attending a funeral outdoors when you cannot maintain 1.5 metres distance from other people.
  • You should not attend a funeral if you are feeling unwell.

Can I hold a wake?

Wakes are not considered part of the funeral. You can hold a gathering after a funeral, however the following limits apply:

  • A wake held outdoors in a public place can have up to 100 people outdoors.
  • A wake held at a venue (such as a restaurant or community centre) must follow the venue’s permitted capacity. The two square metre rule is applied only if electronic record keeping is used. Otherwise, the four square metre rule applies.
  • If you hold a wake at your home, then the members of your household and up to 30 visitors can attend.

Can I attend a wedding?

Yes, you can attend a wedding.

  • The venue you hold a wedding at must apply the two square metre rule. This means the limit on the number of people who can attend a wedding is determined by the size of the venue. The two square metre rule applies only if electronic record keeping is used. Otherwise, the four square metre rule applies.
  • There are no limits on the size of groups. The square metre rule includes the couple, the celebrant, but not the photographer or other workers such as catering staff.
  • A wedding held in a private residence will be limited to the members of the household and up to 30 visitors. The people required to conduct the ceremony are not included in this limit, as they are attending for the purposes of work.
  • Dancing is allowed at a wedding but the four square metre rule must be applied to limit the number of people on the dance floor and there can only be up to 50 people dancing at one time.
  • You can have speeches, singing and chanting at a wedding. 
  • The couple can cut the cake together.
  • You can serve food and drink at a wedding. Seated and non-seated service (i.e. standing up and serving canapes or drinks) is allowed.
  • You must carry a face mask with you at all times when you leave home, unless you have a lawful reason not to. 
  • It is strongly recommended that you wear a face mask while attending a wedding outdoors when you cannot maintain 1.5 metres distance from other people.
  • You can travel to and attend a wedding anywhere in Victoria.

Can I get married or host a wedding at my home?

You can get married at your house however different limits apply to the number of guests you can have. 

  • The number of people attending is limited to the members of the household and up to 30 visitors, not including those conducting the ceremony. Babies under 12 months are not included in the cap.
  • These limits also apply if you hold your wedding in your backyard or outdoor area of your house. 

You must carry a face mask with you at all times when you leave home, unless you have a lawful reason not to. It is strongly recommended that you wear a face mask while attending a wedding. You should not attend a wedding if you are feeling unwell. You should keep at least 1.5 metres distance between you and others unless they are members of your household.

The couple getting married and people who live together do not need to maintain 1.5 metres distance from each other. 

Can I travel to a wedding?

Yes, you can travel to and attend a wedding anywhere in Victoria.

Is a wedding photographer counted in the square metre rule at a wedding?

A photographer is not counted as a guest when the square metre rule is applied to a venue. The square metre rule applies to wedding guests and the couple getting married, not people working at a venue. If the wedding is taking place in a private residence, the photographer is not included in the 30-person cap as they are attending for the purposes of work. There is no limit on the number of photographers or videographers for each wedding. When taking photos, a photographer should always stay 1.5 metres away from others. A photographer must wear a fitted face mask outdoors when not able to maintain 1.5 metres distance from other people. 

Do I need to wear a face mask at a wedding?

It is strongly recommended that you wear a face mask at a wedding outdoors when you can’t maintain 1.5 metres distance from other people. You must carry a face mask with you at all times when you leave home, unless you have a lawful reason not to.

The couple getting married do not need to wear a face mask during the ceremony.

You can take your face mask off when taking photos, but you should stay 1.5m away from others. Photographs outdoors are encouraged.

Are places of worship open?

Yes, all places of worship of all denominations are able to open. 

  • Religious gatherings can be held indoors or outdoors. Venues must apply the two square metre rule to ensure people have enough room to maintain 1.5 metres distance between them. There are no group limits. The two square metre rule applies only if electronic record keeping is used. Otherwise, the four square metre rule applies.
  • While attending a religious gathering there are steps you need to take to keep yourself and others safe including not sharing food, drink or other items. 
  • A venue can have indoor or outdoor religious gatherings at the same time. Ceremonial participants other than faith leaders are included in the two square metre rule only if electronic record keeping is used. Otherwise, the four square metre rule applies.
  • You must carry a face mask with you at all times when you leave home, unless you have a lawful reason not to. 
  • Places of worship can open to conduct weddings and funerals.
  • Places of worship are open for private worship, for example individual prayer.

Places of worship can continue to be open for essential public support services. Essential public support services include food banks, help for people experiencing homelessness or other essential activities. Keep a distance of at least 1.5 metres between yourself and others.

If you are a faith leader or conduct ceremonies, you can find more information in the religion and ceremonies sector guidelines.

Where can I hold an outdoor religious gathering?  

Places of worship may hold religious ceremonies outdoors. The two square metre rule must be applied to ensure everyone has enough room to maintain 1.5 metres distance from each other.

Outdoor religious gatherings must be held in an outdoor space that is near to the place of worship hosting the service. This means:  

  • a service could be held on the grounds of a place of worship or in the car park.  
  • a public outdoor space, like a park, close to the place of worship. You may need a permit from your local council. You can find your local council using Know Your Council. 
  • schools that want to host an outdoor religious ceremony should do so near their place of worship. For many schools this could be the school’s oval or sports grounds (if, for example the school assembly hall is used for religious activities and is therefore a place of worship). Schools can find further information on advice for schools.  

Can I sing at a place of worship?

Yes, singing or chanting can occur as part of a religious ceremony, wedding or funeral.

Group singing is safest when the following measures are applied:

  • singing outside or in a well-ventilated room (with windows open)
  • physical distancing of at least two metres between each person while singing
  • short performances (of less than an hour)
  • wearing a mask when singing indoors
  • singing softly.

These measures are recommended to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Fans, free standing or ceiling, are not recommended for use in enclosed indoor spaces for singing. Performers should be five metres from the audience where practical.

Can food and drinks be served as part of, or after, a religious gathering?

Food or drink can be served as part of a religious gathering or after a religious gathering. It is recommended that single use items are used to serve food or drink. It is recommended that one person serves or distributes food or drinks. For example, one person uses the urn for hot water for tea.

Do people need to wear face masks while at religious gatherings?

It is strongly recommended that you wear a face mask at outdoor religious gathering when you can’t maintain 1.5 metres distance from other people. You must carry a face mask with you at all times when you leave home, unless you have a lawful reason not to

Can I attend a prayer group at a place of worship?

Yes, you can attend a prayer group at a place of worship. The following restrictions apply:

  • Religious gatherings can be held indoors or outdoors. Venues must apply the two square metre rule to ensure people have enough room to maintain 1.5 metres distance between them. There are no group limits. The two square metre rule applies only if electronic record keeping is used. Otherwise, the four square metre rule applies.
  • Faith leaders can visit homes to provide religious guidance, to perform rituals or for care and compassionate reasons.
  • Religious gatherings and prayer groups held at a private residence are subject to the private gathering limit. This means the household itself plus up to 30 visitors per day (excluding any babies under 12 months old).

Can I visit a cemetery outside of attending a funeral?

Yes, you can visit a cemetery with the members of your household, your partner or in a group of up to 100 people at any one time.

Do I need to keep records?

A place of worship or venue hosting a wedding, funeral or religious gathering that is applying the two square metre rule must use electronic record keeping if applying the two square metre rule. Otherwise, the four square metre rule applies. The Victorian Government has a free QR code service available.

If not using electronic record keeping, manual record keeping is required.

A place of worship that is hosting a wedding or funeral must request the first name and contact phone number of the people who have attended. Records must be kept for 28 days for the purposes of contact tracing. See 'Record keeping requirements' on the Business and industry page.

If you are a faith leader or conduct ceremonies you can find more information in the religion and ceremonies sector guidelines.

Reviewed 23 January 2021

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