Latest Update from the Vicar:
The Premier of Victoria has updated the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria, and they offer great relief and freedom. There are still significant barriers to a return to public worship services of the type St Michael’s church is used to, but there are some openings that lead to progress in meeting in-person on the church site some time soon.
From November 9:
- In brief, from the Premier’s own statement, “Indoor religious ceremonies will be increased to 20, with 50 allowed outside. The same numbers will apply to funerals, but there’s no change to weddings – for now.”
- Under the Archbishop’s guidelines, there is a reminder that 4 sq metre distancing, wearing of masks, limited singing, no mingling or sharing of refreshments still applies. In addition, the groupings of those attending a ceremony must be up to 10 per group, separated significantly from the other 10.
- Some limited use of the church office by staff and volunteers is permitted but check the Archbishop’s guidelines.
- As before, up to 5 people can be on site outside for garden maintenance and lawn mowing.
- Live-streaming of services will continue, with 5 people or less present on-site. In this time, please join us online by tuning in to our live-streamed services each Sunday on Facebook and YouTube at 10am and 5:30pm.
- Cleaning of the facilities will continue to be provided professionally once per week on a Thursday.
- The Archbishop’s guidelines permit some hall hire to take place now, but the conditions of such permission seem to suit churches with a dedicated hire space (lock up) and require of the hire group the responsibility of DHHS standards of cleaning and disinfecting along with COVID-safe practices.
From 22 November the government’s so-called “Last Step” may be put in place allowing an abundance of freedoms for the general community, but some continuing barriers to our public worship services indoors – e.g. people in groups of 20 separated from other groups of 20 people, mask wearing, no food sharing or refreshments. We are yet to see the details and perhaps these will change.
There is no certainty about when we will reach what the Government is calling “COVID Normal” and all planned events must still include the contingency that they may be cancelled at the last minute should any evidence of a COVID-19 case associated with our people or ministries be evident.
Other implications for the path ahead:
- The annual meeting will still be held as a Zoom meeting on the last Tuesday in November, but some people may gather in person (up to 10) if this is their request due to lack of access to Zoom
- For Christmas we will encourage “watch parties” in smaller groups in homes to watch live-streamed Christmas services and events in gatherings up to 10 as people feel willing to do so. We can have limited numbers in-person indoors in the church for Christmas services (as per restrictions mentioned above) but the selection of who they may be is not easy to determine apart from the 5 people conducting the livestream.
- Until 2021 most of our meetings such as staff, parish council, wardens, will continue to be held via Zoom. Staff will also continue to work from home where possible. This alleviates the need for COVID-safe cleaning before and after using the site and makes it easy for everyone to feel safe in attending the meetings.
- Limiting the number of those who gather on site when the rules allow it requires some further thought to avoid the sense that some are welcome, and some are not.
Our Sunday services are currently being live-streamed only.
The only access, for the safety of everyone, is to staff or office-bearers, and those invited to take part in conducting Sunday services or other ministries onsite (we are currently able to have a few people onsite each Sunday to help with running the services).
We are not currently taking any hall bookings, and we are unable to take any bookings before the new year. We will be looking into taking bookings for 2021 after Christmas.