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COVID-19

Latest News Updates

17/11/2021

COVID-19 UPDATE #39

The below information was released in the Leaders Update In 5 today:

Dear Pastors and Leaders,
As South Australia prepares for the next stage of ‘living with COVID’, we know that people in our churches have various questions and concerns. Leading through this pandemic continues to be both challenging and tiring. We encourage you to continue conversations as leadership teams and with your church around how you can best love and serve one another in all circumstances.
BCSA was part of a meeting between the Leaders of Christian Churches SA and Dr Chris Lease, Deputy Chief Public  Health Officer, SA Health, on Tuesday. We have appreciated their ongoing dialogue with us. Below is a summary of their advice, which we wanted to pass on to you.
As always, the team at BCSA are happy to provide information and support, and please know that we are praying for you as you navigate what this looks like in practice for your church community.
Melinda

Summary of LoCCSA meeting with Dr Chris Lease, 16 November 2021
Transitional stage
The focus of this meeting was to discuss the “transitional stage” (with between 80% and 90% of the population vaccinated) as SA borders open on November 23 and we move from a COVID-elimination to a suppression strategy. SA Health’s goal is to provide advice that will help churches make decisions on how to continue activities while keeping the risks as low as possible.

Dr Lease noted that the current approach is based on modelling, and so it may adapt as the actual situation unfolds. He also noted that by definition, this transitional stage comes with a degree of uncertainty and may be uncomfortable. There is a need to manage the risks as they increase, as well as the levels of anxiety in our community as we enter this stage.

Re-emphasising good practice
A key emphasis is on the importance of continuing infection control measures that are currently in place, including masks, distancing, and sanitising. In preparation for 23 November, it is timely to re-emphasise the importance of these, noting that fatigue and complacency may have crept in over the last few months. These are universal measures designed to apply to all equally, and compliance with them will be factored into the response to any outbreaks.

Now is also a good time for churches to re-familiarise themselves with their COVID-Safe plan, which outlines what we have agreed to do.

Vaccination
Dr Lease reiterated that there is no appetite for broad community mandates for vaccination, and no intention to mandate vaccination for church staff, volunteers, or attendance.

SA Health is encouraging vaccination as both the best opportunity to continue activities, and to protect the broader community. Church staff may be required to be vaccinated to undertake their role in other settings (e.g. hospitals or schools), and individual businesses or groups are free to require vaccination for their activities.

Churches are free to modify or limit their activities for those who are unvaccinated in order to minimise risks and protect the whole community. In particular, SA health recommends churches require those working with children (and others unable to be vaccinated and/or vulnerable) to be vaccinated – this would be in line with what is mandated in schools and childcare settings.

What if there is an outbreak?
If there are COVID cases in your church, SA Health’s risk assessment and advice will apply, and the response required will depend on the nature of your activities, precautions taken, and the contact status of people involved (e.g. close or casual, vaccinated or unvaccinated – see below diagram). Churches could be asked to provide some of this information. The goal would be for activities to recommence as soon as practicable, however an outbreak could also lead to a church being asked to modify its approach going forward.

Churches may also like to consider their insurance obligations and any potential impact of not following agreed requirements, and/or recommendations.

Note: BCSA’s current information from BIS is that a church that intentionally chooses not to comply with government requirements would not be covered; and a church that chooses not to follow health recommendations may not be covered.

SA Health information on testing, tracing, isolating and quarantine can be found here.

The SA COVID-Ready Plan can be found here.

9/09/2021

COVID-19 UPDATE #38

At 12:01am Thursday 9 September 2021, the Emergency Management (Activities-Associated Direction No 13) (COVID-19) Direction 2021 came into effect.

After reviewing the new Directions we can confirm the following stays the same:

  • Density requirements are at 3 people per 4 sq metres. Your latest COVID-Safe Plan will have the capacity numbers listed for your various rooms and the church as a whole.
    • People employed or engaged to work, or undertaking official duties, for the purposes of the activity are not to be counted.
    • Infants and children of any age are to be counted.
  • It is mandatory to wear a mask for any activity taking place on the church property.
  • Congregational singing is allowed with masks being worn.
  • There should be no communal serving facilities.
  • Consumption of food and beverages are to be done while seated (morning tea).
  • The physical distancing principle of 1.5m is to be encouraged.
  • COVID-Safe Plans, COVID Marshals and an appropriate Contact Tracing Systems all need to be in place.
  • A cap of 20 people for Gathering at Home. The cap includes those living at the premises.

The following restrictions have been updated:

  • A cap of 150 people for Private Activities (including Weddings, Funerals and Birthday Parties) at a non-residential premises. The cap includes those leading the activity.

More Information About Caps for Private Activities

For Private Activities at the church for up to 50 people:

  • A COVID-Safe Plan is required (which includes the church’s QR code),
  • Masks must be worn in shared indoor places,
  • A person may sing indoors if a mask is worn,
  • Dancing is permitted.

For Private Activities for 51-150 people, in addition to the above:

  • A COVID Marshal is required,
  • But dancing is not permitted.

Simply put, if the church is putting on an activity or event that is not the defined public activity as noted in their COVID-Safe Plan (i.e.: religious ceremonies) then it will be considered a Private Activity.

Groups like Playgroup, Mainly Music, craft groups, etc would be considered Private Activities under this definition.

 

We hope this helps to clarify the situation while this new Level 1 Plus Restriction is in place.

For the latest information about the requirements at your church, review your most recent COVID-Safe Plan, visit the COVID-Safe website, call the COVID-Safe Information Line (1800253787) or give us a call to chat.

Click here for the current Activities-General Directions

 

Previous Updates Have Now Been Archived

Please note that all previous Updates have now been archived as Directions documents have been rewritten, and all previous guidance is no longer valid.

If you wish to see information from previous Updates, please contact the Baptist Office and we will provide you with the relevant information.