British Columbia’s orders around gatherings and events have been amended to allow for religious gatherings held outdoors.
Health officials in British Columbia amended the order on Tuesday, adding more than 20 different requirements and rules that must be followed.
“The Provincial Health Officer’s orders on gatherings and events has been amended today to provide a variance for outdoor worship services,” Health Officials wrote in a joint statement on Tuesday. “Worship service organizers must ensure COVID-19 safety plans are in place for all outdoor services and all attendees follow these plans.”
Gatherings must be held outdoors and cannot be at a private residence or vacation accommodation. A maximum of 50 people and 50 vehicles can be present at once. An additional two people can be present to ensure that the gatherings are compliant with COVID-19 safety protocols.
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Organizers will be required to pre-register all participants in order to control attendance and, if necessary, conduct contact tracing. This includes collecting the first and last name, telephone number, and email address of every person at a service. Additionally, supplies for hand sanitization must be readily available, and health checks need to be carried out before attending.
Naturally, participants are required to wear a face-covering and maintain a two-metre distance from participants who do not live in their household. Worship leaders, readers, and singers will also need to wear face coverings except when speaking, singing, or chanting. For the moment, choirs will not be permitted, but soloists are.
Attendees are also prohibited from gathering or socially engaging amongst each other before, during, or after the service.
“Participants must disperse immediately after a worship service and must not congregate with other participants who are leaving the service or arriving to attend a subsequent service,” reads the variance on outdoor worship services.