COVID – 19 Update

COVID – 19 UPDATE (Thursday 18th June)

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RETURN TO PHYSICAL GATHERINGS

With the gradual easing of COVID-19 restrictions, we are now able to announce a return to physical church services from the 12th July.  However, due to the ongoing social distancing rules, our services will look somewhat different for the foreseeable future.  The following is an outline of how our services will run during Stage 3 of the roadmap to easing Queensland’s restrictions.  

BASIC OUTLINE

There will be two Sunday services of 45-50 minutes, starting at 9:00am and 10:30am.  Due to social distancing rules, the maximum capacity for each service is 50 people.

The 9:00am service on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month will be for those who are more vulnerable or still apprehensive about larger gatherings. Those who are in vulnerable groups are advised to attend these services.  However, they are not excluded from other services, as it is a matter of personal choice.

To ensure that we don’t exceed our maximum capacity, we will be assigning you/ your family to particular services, based on the information that you provide us with. Please complete this 1-minute survey to express your preferences.

DETAILED PLAN

Physical Distancing – We are required to keep 4 square metres between congregation members hence, the need for multiple services.  However, people from the same family (who are in  regular contact with one another) will be able to sit together.  If we are singing, we are required to keep 7 square metres apart, which has implications for our music (see below).  To avoid bottlenecks, congregants will enter the church via the main doors at the front and exit via the doors that lead out to the area where we usually have refreshments.

Music – Because singers need to be 7 metres apart we won’t be able to sing along to the worship music.  There simply isn’t enough space.  This will seem strange at first, but we can still make our worship experience, joyful, uplifting, lively and honouring to God – here’s how:

  • Initially, we may use music videos or audio, with the intention of re-integrating live music as soon as possible.  Otherwise, our singers would have to perform solo, which would put them under huge pressure.  However, we’ll review this approach at an early stage.
  • Those who play hand-held percussion instruments will be encouraged to bring them.
  • We can clap, dance or raise our hands in worship
  • Or, if we’re more reserved, we can simply soak up the atmosphere

Kids Church – With the current restrictions, the range of possible Kids Church activities is severely curtailed.  Moreover, the social distancing requirements for churches are stricter and more difficult to implement than those for schools. The parish council have therefore decided that children and adults will remain together for Sunday services, until social distancing rules are relaxed.  

At the beginning of each service the children will be given a personalised activity pack to work on whilst seated close to their parents.  Moreover, a special effort will be made to make various parts of the service more engaging for the children.

Communion – In the interest of simplicity we won’t share in the bread and the wine until we become accustomed to our new way of doing things.  However, we aim to phase communion back into our services as soon as practically possible.

Vulnerable Groups – People in vulnerable groups and those who are apprehensive about larger gatherings are advised to attend the 9:00am service on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month.  School aged children come into contact with high numbers of people on a daily basis and for that reason they will not be attending these two services.

Vulnerable groups include the following:

  • Over 70 years of age
  • Over 65 years of age with underlying health issues
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders over the age of 50 with one or more chronic diseases
  • Anyone with a serious underlying health condition, regardless of age

Experiencing Symptoms – If you, or any member of your family, is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you should not attend church!  The symptoms are as follows:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sneezing/ runny nose
  • Loss of sense of smell

You should also not attend church if: 

  • You are awaiting results from a COVID-19 test
  • You have been in contact with anyone known or suspected to have COVID-19 in the past 14 days
  • You have returned or been in contact with anyone else who has returned from oversees in the past 14 days

Online Services

For vulnerable people, who prefer to stay at home and for people from other parts of Australia and the world who have been engaging with our online services, we will continue to provide them.  We will record key sections from the Sunday morning service and add them to a YouTube playlist in the normal way.  Our online service will be posted on Sunday evenings at a time to be confirmed.

Food/ Fellowship – Unfortunately, for the time being, we will not be able to have refreshments after the service.  However, we want to encourage all church members to be pro-active and intentional about seeking fellowship with their church family.  Why not arrange to go for a coffee or have a children’s play date in the park before or after the Sunday service.  Use the service as a meeting place, from where you can go on (in smaller groups) to do other things with members of our community.

Adapting and Improving – Our services will be adapted in response to any changes to the COVID-19 restrictions.  We are entering new territory with this style of service and will therefore need to review, refine and improve our services as we go along.  This is, in fact, a wonderful opportunity to try new things and we will be better off for it in the long-term.

Cleaning

  • On entering the church, you will be provided with hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes to clean your chair
  • Toilets, door handles and other surfaces will be sanitized between services
  • After the 10:30am service you will be asked to wipe down your chair
  • The facilities will again be cleaned after the 10:30am service

Giving – Because coins and notes are prime carriers of bacteria, there will be no offering during the service.  Church members are encouraged to give via direct bank transfer, through Parish Direct or instant BPoint payment.  Click here for more details. 

COVID Safe Plan for Places of Worship  – We will be adhering to the Industry COVID Safe Plan for Places of Worship in Queensland.

The plan includes a checklist (pages 15-17), to ensure that we are adhering to all health and hygiene rubrics, as set out by the Queensland state government. Our nominated COVID Safe Warden is Parish Councillor Louise Eagles.

Record Keeping – A record must be kept of everyone who has attended each service.  Please ensure that you check-in with the welcomer, who must record your attendance.

New Joiners – We hope that new people will join our church during this period of reopening.  We will therefore not allocate all the seats for any given service, so as to be able to accommodate new and unexpected congregants.  If these additional seats are filled, then some members of the parish council/ congregation may offer to sit outside with the doors open.  This could be an inconvenience, but it would also be a wonderful gesture that would make new joiners feel welcomed and valued.   

Roster – The roster will start again from 12th July.  Given that we will be running two services, there is an increased demand for certain roles, particularly cleaning.  If you are willing to help with cleaning, please indicate this on the questionnaire.  If you are currently on the roster, Tisa will be emailing you in the near future to ascertain your availability.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT COVID-19 in Queensland, please follow this link to the COVID-19 Factsheet 

HUBS – Hub are a key part of our life together at St. Andrew’s! With immediate effect, Hubs can now resume in person meetings, provided the following guidelines are followed:  

  • Vulnerable Leaders: All leaders who are considered vulnerable are meeting online.
  • Vulnerable Members: Anyone who is considered vulnerable is recommended to connect with their group online.
  • Record Keeping: All leaders will keep a record of who has physically attended each week 
  • Hygiene/Sanitization: The leader is responsible to ensure that the small group environment is sanitized 
  • Numbers: Maximum 20 guests 
  • Physical Distancing: All physical distancing and square metre rules (1 person/4m2) apply. 
  • Symptoms: Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should not attend Hub.

Although we can now meet physically, it is not compulsory and each Hub will need to choose from the following options:

  • Continue meeting via zoom
  • Hybrid model (combination of zoom + in person)
  • Meet in Cedar Building