On November 30, the Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry announced new orders for worship services in the province. These orders are designed to reduce the risk of COVID-19. She announced:
- A requirement that worship services must be limited to 50% of seated capacity, unless all the participants are vaccinated, in which case the capacity could increase to 100%. While the BC Vaccine Card is an option available for this purpose, faith leaders will have the flexibility to design their own system to ensure that all participants are vaccinated, if that is the model they choose to follow.
- A requirement that participants attending worship services, including choirs, must wear a face covering during worship services, including as participants come into the place of worship and when they leave, until outside. Participants will be able to remove the face covering when consuming food or drink to allow for ceremonial activities. Readers and celebrants will be allowed to speak without a mask, subject to distancing requirements or the presence of a barrier to prevent transmission.
What does this mean for us in the Diocese of New Westminster?
- In worship, we must always wear our masks (unless we are speaking or singing solo). The mask may be removed to consume the consecrated bread or wine (celebrant only at the present time) at Communion.
- Parishes may choose whether they will ask to see a vaccine passport for those attending worship OR if they will plan for a reduction in the capacity of the church to 50%. Parishes have the flexibility to hold services with reduced capacity and others (Christmas worship) where they will check vaccine passports. Please note that you do not need to have a scanner for the vaccine passport but only that it must be shown.
- In worship, people must continue to distance from others not in their own family, as much as is possible.
- Communion continues to be in one kind only with all communicants receiving the consecrated bread and the presiding priest consuming the consecrated wine on behalf of the entire community.
- Offertory plates are not to be passed amongst the congregation.
- We exchange the peace without any physical contact (except for those of the same household).