Helping Churches Navigate Vaccine and Other COVID Requirements

Newfoundland & Labrador

Update: December 22nd, 2021

The entire province is moving to Alert Level 3 until at least January 10th.

  • According to the Faith-Based Organizations webpage, the guidelines are as follows for churches choosing to ask for proof of vaccine:
    • Capacity is limited to 100 people or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is less, with physical distancing between attendees;
    • Attendees must wear non-medical masks at all times. A solo performer or speaker may remove their mask while speaking/singing if they are at least 2 metres from others;
    • Congregants may sing while masked; and
    • Names and contact information of all attendees must be recorded and retained for 14 days for contact tracing, and must be shared with public health officials if requested.
  • For churches choosing not to ask for proof of vaccine:
    • Capacity is limited to 25 per cent with physical distancing between attendees;
    • Everyone must wear a non-medical mask at all times (including the officiant and musicians);
    • Congregational singing is not permitted; and,
    • Names and contact information of all attendees must be recorded and retained for 14 days for contact tracing, and must be shared with public health officials if requested.
  • Wakes are not permitted.

New Brunswick

Update: December 22nd, 2021

  • Effective, January14th at 11:59, the entire province is moving to Level 3 restrictions.
  • For all faith gatherings, this means the following changes:
    • No in-person gatherings
  • In addition to Level 1 measures, wakes and funeral services are permitted but limited to one household bubble in attendance at a time, in addition to funeral home staff and one cleric, with staff and clergy.
  • Weddings are permitted but limited to the couple plus one household bubble and one officiant.

For virtual services that are either pre-recording or broadcasting live, the Mandatory Order, paragraph 8 states, “Religious leaders are also permitted to undertake virtual gatherings, where the celebrant and a maximum of four other persons, all 2 metres apart, conduct a service for broadcast.”

Nova Scotia

Updated December 22nd, 2021

This week, Nova Scotia’s Public Health office announced new restrictions that take effect on Wednesday, December 22nd. Dr. Robert Strang shared these points which are reflected in Nova Scotia’s updated guidelines for churches:

  • Gatherings for churches are limited to 25% of capacity, up to a max of 50 individuals indoors or outdoors. Faith organizations with an established and approved plan for multiple groups can continue those, but each group cannot exceed 50 and the total number of all the groups cannot exceed 25% of max capacity.
  • Gatherings can have only one person singing; no multiple singers on worship teams, choirs, or congregational singing is permitted.

Some of our churches in Nova Scotia have already begun to reduce the number of in-person gatherings in the Christmas season due to concerns for safety. We offer these suggestions for you as you make decisions:

  1. Stay informed with the guidelines. Continue to check the NS government’s COVID-19 website. Consider reaching out to your local MLA as well.
  2. Update your assessment of risk for your church facility and the gatherings that take place. What precautions need to continue or increase?
  3. Consider new, creative ways to minister to your neighbourhood and congregation this Christmas. What new needs are there that your church could meet? How can you show the love of Jesus in this situation?

Proof of full vaccination is not required for a regular faith service, such as daily or weekly services. Services that are part of your faith’s annual calendar (such as Christmas and Easter services in Christian faiths) are considered the same as regular daily/weekly services—no proof of full vaccination is required. Masking is required throughout these services, whether people are seated or not, except for officiants or singers when they are speaking or singing … physical distancing is no longer required.

Proof of full vaccination is required for any other events and activities hosted by a faith organization, including social time after a service, Bible study, youth group, retreats, community meals or fundrasiers and meetings, and holiday concerts and special events. Masking is required at such events except when people are actively eating or drinking and for officiants when they are speaking or singing.

Weddings: Proof of full vaccination is required for participants (not officiants) at weddings, funerals, and other ceremonies—even if they take place in a church or other faith facility. Informal weddings as outlined in Section 4.1 of the protocols do not require proof of full vaccination, but they must be limited to 10 people from the same household or consistent social group, plus one officiant. Proof of full vaccination is required for receptions associated with weddings.

Funerals: Proof of full vaccination is required for participants at weddings, funerals, and other ceremonies—even if they take place in a church or other faith facility. It is not required for officiants, funeral home staff or service providers… there is an exception for funeral services with a maximum of 10 participants indoors or outdoors (not including officiants or funeral home staff), but everyone must wear masks and practice social distancing. Proof of full vaccination is required for receptions and visitation associated with all funerals.

 

Prince Edward Island

Effective Friday, Dec. 17th, worship services can continue with physical distancing between people of different households. Masks must be now worn at all times, including when seated and singing. Masks can be removed for performers or officiants while they are on the platform (socially distanced).