We are here to walk with you as you do ministry during COVID and we’ve created this page to equip you with resources and guidance for recovering and restarting in-person gatherings.

We recognize how difficult this has been for our churches and leaders. Since early March 2020, we’ve all felt like we’re in uncharted territory. As the CBAC, we share that sentiment, and we want to have a posture of helping you decide what’s best for your ministry. We cannot mandate what you do as a church—this page is simply a set of recommendations based on the best knowledge we have.

Permitted and wise—both of these conditions need to be met for you to enter the process of gathering together again.

In the conversation around “closing” churches and then re-opening our in-person gatherings, there has been some concern about government overreach. We do not feel this is the case, and we strongly echo the voices from the worldwide Church: we never closed. We simply had to change the way we did things because of the health and safety of the people in our congregations and wider neighbourhoods.

Please consider the following four principles for your re-opening process:

  1. Slower is better. Hurry is risky. While people are longing for community, they generally are wary and fearful of large gatherings. Show empathy.
  2. Stay one step behind the government and our neighbourhoods. We want to be fully honouring and respectful of authority—but this doesn’t mean we must re-open before we’re ready. Please do not act hastily and become the centre of a new outbreak. Consider waiting a period of time after it becomes permitted to gather in person again. Consider setting even tighter restrictions on physical distancing and hygiene.
  3. Use protocols to foster a deep sense of safety. In light of what retail businesses and other public places have done to increase sanitation and safety, churches need to invest time and resources in this as well.
  4. Senior adults and immunocompromised people will (and should) be slow to return to larger gatherings. What will it mean to minister to them? Do you need to continue practices from the fully-remote ministry you have been doing?

Table of Contents

  1. The Big Picture
  2. Practices We Recommend Keeping, Even If Not Required
  3. Provincial government restrictions and re-opening guidelines
    1. New Brunswick
    2. Newfoundland and Labrador
    3. Nova Scotia
    4. Prince Edward Island
  4. Your written operational plan for re-opening
  5. Practical Questions and our recommendations
  6. Resources

The Big Picture: This is a moment of opportunity

Don’t miss the opportunity of this current moment: you can reshape. You can join God in your neighbourhood in a new way. You can work in partnership with your team, other churches, your association, and your denomination. Don’t miss it!

Ask these VISION questions as a church:

Continued restrictionsLifted restrictions
  • If we move from “house church” to in-person services, how will our congregation feel?
  • Is it wise or risky to gather in person in our church facility?
  • How will our in-person gatherings be welcoming to our neighbourhood?
  • How should childcare, children’s ministry, and youth ministry change?
  • How will we grow and maintain community and fellowship?
  • How is our wider neighbourhood doing? Are we responding to their needs?
  • Will multiple gatherings become part of our congregation’s DNA moving forward?
  • Could “home churches” or other expressions of church be legitimate church gatherings, tethered to our larger congregation?
  • What does online ministry look like for our church now? Was it a tool to “fill the gap” during COVID? Or is it a tool to embrace going forward?
  • What have we learned about online and automated giving that can serve us well from now on?
  • What practices from pre-COVID should we stop doing? What have we started that we can’t stop doing?
  • If there are people in our congregations that we haven’t seen in a while, how can we lovingly reach out to care for them?

Practices We Recommend Keeping, Even If Not Required

As the provincial governments in Atlantic Canada prepare to lift restrictions related to COVID-19

Masks and DistancingContact TracingCommunication
  • Keep the floor arrow stickers to direct traffic in your facility
  • Encourage your congregation to ask permission from each other before hugging or shaking hands
  • Take extra precautions with indoor ventilation (opening windows, air exchange systems, etc.)
  • Use outdoor spaces for social mingling as much as possible
  • Remind people that it’s more than okay to continue wearing masks
  • Remind people to stay home if they have any symptoms
  • If contact tracing requirements are still in place, make sure you are following your provincial guidelines on how to collect (and subsequently destroy) the contact information properly.
  • Even after contact tracing is no longer required, it may still be a good idea to ask for a name and phone number for everyone who enters the facility. We know of some churches that are asking their congregation, going forward, to personally keep track of the dates that they are onsite at the church facility.
  • Communicate on a regular basis with your congregation about any changes to protocols, expectations, and plans. The more everyone knows about what COVID prevention measures are in place, the more comfortable the congregation will be.
  • Communicate clearly on your church’s website and social media pages what someone could expect if they attend an in person gathering. What would a visitor need to know about masks, distancing, etc., when they enter your facility?

Provincial government restrictions and re-opening guidelines

Provincial government restrictions and guidance

New Brunswick:

As of March 14th, there are no provincial public health restrictions.

Newfoundland & Labrador:

As of March 14th, there are no provincial public health restrictions.

Nova Scotia:

As of March 21st, 2022, phase 3 of public health changes takes effect; there are no provincial public health restrictions.

Prince Edward Island:

As of March 17th, 2022, the province is at Step 2 of reopening:

  • Mask requirements must continue to be followed.
  • Spectators and attendees permitted up to 75% capacity; organizers required to maximize use of space to allow for as much physical distancing as possible
    • Capacity is the standard operating capacity of the facility (e.g. pre-COVID capacity)
    • Staff and officiants are excluded from the 75% limit.
  • Congregational singing with masks is permitted
  • Information on masking for performers is in the guidance for wearing masks in the community.
  • People must be seated to eat and drink. If a standing reception – see guidance specific to standing receptions.
  • There is no requirement for records for contact tracing for organized gatherings.


Practical Questions and Our Recommendations



  • Does our parking lot setup need to change?
  • What is our plan for building entrances and exits?
  • Can we make the gathering a completely “touchless” experience (i.e., people touch only their seat)?
  • What signage is required to meet provincial regulations?
  • How do we sanitize the facility after each service?
  • How do we set up the auditorium? What do we do if we have pews, chairs, etc.?
  • How will we keep track of sanitization for areas used by different groups at different times?
  • Communicate your health and safety protocols to your congregation before they arrive.
  • Ensure that people can physically distance as they enter and exit your parking lot, walkways, and building.
  • Provide hand-washing and/or hand sanitizer stations with appropriate signage
  • If possible, change traffic flow to one-way in your building, to reduce people meeting each other while walking in and out of your rooms
  • Install new directional signage to direct traffic, including arrows on the floor
  • Think about every possible surface that your people could touch as they are in your facility. Have multiple people review this list.
  • Make a list of areas in which physical distancing will be highly unlikely.
  • Create a checklist and schedule for areas that need to be cleaned.
  • Offer face masks at the entrance of your building

Worship Services

  • How will we practice adequate screening of people coming into our facility?
  • How will we determine the maximum number of people in one gathering?
  • What will be the roles and expectations of greeters and ushers?
  • Can we take up the offering and observe communion safely?
  • Can we sing? Should we?
  • How will the music team, preacher, and other service leaders practice safe physical distancing, including the transition moments in the service?
  • Can we do a safe “greeting time”?
  • What new training is needed for all the people who serve in specific roles for the service?
  • Develop and execute a plan for active screening and/or passive screening for people attending your services.
  • If your province has not already mandated a specific gathering size for when church gatherings can happen, please exercise caution. Make a plan for how you can stay well within the limits.
    • As of June 5th, New Brunswick is allowing indoor religious services of 50 people or less.
  • Set up your auditorium so that attendees will sit at least six feet apart. Block off pews or move chairs around to do this.
  • Most provinces recommend against (or prohibit) the sharing of food and drink, which applies to communion. Think about observing communion with an online church gathering instead.
    • In New Brunswick, communion is allowed but must be in pre-packaged or individual portions, with other requirements.
  • Singing is more risky because it projects droplets of moisture from your lungs much further than normal talking. Some health officials say physical distancing of 12 feet is much safer than 6 feet. If singing is allowed in your province, and if you choose to have singing, please take a much greater level of caution.
    • Consider asking your congregation to refrain from singing along with a music leader.
    • Do not use hymnals or chorus books. Use projection or printed disposable lyric sheets (placed on seats).

Childcare, Children’s Ministry, and Youth Ministry

In NB, NFLD, and NS, do participants in our children & youth ministries need to wear masks?

As per provincial guidelines, all public buildings require the wearing of masks. While schools and daycares may have exceptions that allow students to not always wear a mask, churches do not fall into those categories.

  • How will you continue to disciple students, children, and families, as many of them choose not to attend services?
  • Is it safe to have a nursery and childcare during a service?
  • What measures need to be in place before we can safely have childcare?
  • How can we help our students connect with our reopened services?
  • How will our operational plan account for youth ministry gatherings?
  • We encourage churches to be mindful of the COVID-19 protocols and practices from our provincial education districts.
  • As you plan for on-site services, seek out input from students in our church.
  • Check in with families and volunteers about their comfort levels. Show them your operational plan and ask what they feel may be missing.
  • Provide take-home packages for families with children to help them lead faith-based conversations and activities. Recognize many families will choose to stay home.
  • Consider how your services can be come intergenerational.

Remember: these recommendations are our best understanding and not to be taken as legal advice.


Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada: “Re-Opening Church Wisely and Re-Imagining Forward” (PDF)

Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec: “Preparing Your Church for the Next Phase” (PDF)

Plan to Protect: Readiness Assessment

Government of Alberta: “COVID-19 information: guidance for places of worship”

Government of Saskatchewan: “Drive-In or Remote Worship Guidelines”

Government of Canada: “Risk-informed decision-making guidelines for workplaces and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic”