Upon the introduction, June 12, of Stage 2 of the province’s Relaunch Strategy Bishop Jane provided revised guidelines for re-opening churches. One significant change to public health measures is the introduction of no cap on the number of people attending worship gatherings as long as physical distancing is maintained.
“With the further re-launching of the community here in Alberta we now find ourselves in Phase 3 of the Diocesan Plan for Meeting Together Again,” said Bishop Jane. In a letter to clergy last week, she noted “the new guidelines are still very detailed and many have not changed from our diocesan Phase 2.”
The Synod Office was re-opened June 15 (although some of the staff are choosing to work remotely for some parts of the week), and Bishop Jane is holding a series of Zoom meetings with parish clergy to discuss the new changes.
Working with the guidelines and checklist previously provided by Bishop, several parishes have submitted re-opening plans and with the Bishop's approval a few intend to re-open their churches June 21. However, other parishes do not intend to resume holding Sunday services in-person until the fall.
Bishop Jane notes that even with the lifting of so many restrictions, two-metre physical distancing is still the norm for worship, meetings and study groups.
“As we enter the next phase of re-opening here in Alberta, COVID-19 is still with us and we are not in a risk-free situation. I reiterate that until a vaccine for COVID-19 is developed, if that is even possible, we can never be 100% sure that someone in the congregation has not contracted the virus,” she said. “Quarantine and self-isolation after contact with an infected person is now part of our usual way of life. The new Alberta guidelines stress that people who have travelled internationally in the past 14 days, and those who have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days, are forbidden from entering the church building. Each parish must advertise this information and ensure that people adhere to this direction.”
View Phase 3 of the Diocesan Plan for Meeting Together Again