On 25 May 2020 the SA Government announced that the state would be moving into Recovery Step 2 with further easing of restrictions from 1 June 2020. The SA Government is using a principles based approach to Recovery Step 2 instead of a directive approach. This allows the Government to identify the key ways to decrease the risk of COVID-19 transmission, while allowing previously restricted activities to restart in a safe way.
Click here to go to the Recovery Step 2 web page.
Click here to go to the Step 2 Principles web page.
This heralds some good news for our churches as we can start thinking about how we might gather together in our church buildings in appropriately sized groups.
As we plan towards this time, there are two areas that we need to turn our attention and understanding towards.
The following specific measures will still need to be followed in all contexts:
- Social distancing of 1.5m between people.
- Space allocation of 1 person per 4 square metres.
- A maximum of 80 people may gather at a venue with a maximum of 20 people allowed to be in any one room (subject to the 1 person per 4 square metre rule).
If your church only has a room of:
- 40 square metres,
then a maximum of 10 people can attend in that room;
- 60 square metres,
then a maximum of 15 people can attend in that room;
- 80 square metres,
then a maximum of 20 people can attend in that room;
- 200 square metres,
then a maximum of 20 people can attend in that room.
- 40 square metres,
- Remember even if you have multiple rooms, the total number of people that may gather at the venue at one time is 80.
According to the SA COVID-19 website, the number of people noted above excludes staff. In conversation with a representative from the SA COVID-19 Information Line, volunteers taking part in specific roles within a service can be considered staff. We would caution our churches to ensure that the absolute minimum number of volunteers are used to run the services. Safework SA and the Police have the authority to attend any gathering to determine if the limitations are being met. It would not be a good look (and probably difficult to justify) if there were 20 people gathered as a congregation and another 20 people there because they were “volunteers on the service roster”. This could potentially set the church back $5000 with an on the spot fine, but more importantly could undermine our witness to our community.
To assist with identification, perhaps leaders, singers, musicians and tech crew can wear church lanyards with the role they are undertaking. Also, to reduce numbers, see if you can utilise multi-talented people.
Businesses that were previously directed to close (which includes places of worship) must complete a COVID-Safe Plan before they can reopen.
This Plan will outline how your staff and visitors can be kept safe from COVID-19. It will be used to identify the size of your venue (including number of inside and outside areas) to determine the maximum number of people that can gather. The church will also need to sign off that they understand their obligations to the public, and that they are implementing the SA Government recommendations around physical distancing, hygiene, staff, readiness to reopen, and response planning.
We would suggest that a record of attendees (staff, volunteers and visitors) be kept for every service or activity that takes place on the church premises. This would need to be kept on file in a secure location and produced if requested by an authorised person in the event that a COVID-19 case is linked to the church.
Click here to go to the COVID-Safe Plan web page.
An individual from the church needs to complete the form and be the contact person. We would suggest either the Senior Pastor or the Chair of the church governing body.
If your church opens without completing a Plan, does not have this available at your premises, or does not comply with current Directions, the church can be fined up to $5,000.
There are many great resources available to the local church to help them in their preparations to reopen. Of particular help is the Safework Australia Resource Kit which provides a number of checklists, guides and posters, and the BIS COVID-SAFE Plan Guide.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the above, please contact the Baptist Office. As questions arise, we will update our Latest News page so that all our churches can benefit of the resources.