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Opening after Corona Virus Lockdown

An ongoing collection of material about opening the church buildings beyond the COVID-19 lockdown.

1. DHHS cleaning advice March 20


2. Synod advice May 14

3. Notes from Synod Zoom meeting May 15

4. Meeting of Property / Ministry / Council representatives May 19

4.1. Background

On May 20th Neil, Joanne (office), David Morgan (Safe church/ CC secretary), Glyn (CC chair) and Warren (Property) [Re-opening Task Group – possible name] met to consider and plan for re-opening of the church complex.

This followed extensive consultation with Synod and Presbytery.

Church council’s responsibility and role is outlined below by the Presbytery.

4.2. Notes from meeting on May 20th

4.2.1. When are we able to re-open the church?

4.2.2. Process for groups to re-open
  1. Single point of approval: CC to approve
  2. Apply to CC in writing
  3. Between CC meetings CC to delegate re-opening decisions to working group – Neil, Glyn (CC Chair), David Morgan (Safe Church), Warren (Property), Joanne (Office) [Re-opening Task Group]


4.2.4. WORSHIP: some ideas/ possibilities from meetings with presbytery


4.2.6. Staffing of office

4.3. Recommendations to CC

From this group.

  1. As we are one congregation, we should not recommence worship until circumstances make it possible for all services to begin
  2. Complex remains closed – no usual activities
  3. Groups such as, UCAF, Badminton and Table Tennis, Playgroups, Friday Bible Study, Choirs, LeisureTime, Men’s Group, Cooee, Hub not to commence until after state laws allow meetings of groups up to 50 people, but Church Council will also decide based on age of guests, volunteers, high risk individuals and support persons. Space requirements per person also relevant.

  4. Prioritise the vulnerable
  5. Each Church Group must seek permission to recommence and when approved the Office manager will issue instructions for that group. Church Council to consider all Synod recommendations on risk and age.
  6. Authorise Re-opening Task Group to manage between CC meetings
  7. Involve Communications Committee using all channels
    1. Need to help everyone understand where we are
    2. Design and create signage, forms, etc before re-opening

Glyn Howells
Church Council
Glen Waverley Uniting Church
20 May 2020

5. Synod advice May 21

See VIC-COVID-FAQs-May-21.pdf

6. Government update 24 May


One politician's summary of the changes included:
Frustratingly, the legal directions which underpin these changes are yet to be released by the Victorian Government, which makes it difficult to answer detailed questions about their impact. I expect they will be posted here closer to June 1 when they take effect.

Health Department now has: Places of worship can open for private worship or small religious ceremonies for up to 20 people in a single undivided indoor space, subject to the four square metre rule plus the minimum number of people reasonably required to perform the service or ceremony.

7. Hospitality Industry Guidelines 26 May

8. Church Council meeting May 28

Council adopted the recommendations above from the Re-opening Task Group and the following statement.

Having considered the post June 1 regulations from government, and advice from Synod, Church Council agreed to the following guidelines to apply from June 1 to June 22. Given the requirements of fewer than 20 persons and 4 square metres per person in a room of a church building, no meetings will be held at the church during this time. The complex remains closed.
While it may be legal for people to meet in homes, with fewer than 20 persons able to maintain 1.5m between them, that does not mean that it is advisable. Certainly no member should be pressured to attend. Whether to attend should be a free and considered decision of each member, considering their own health, exposure and vulnerability situations. Church Council cannot endorse such meetings as church groups.

9. Synod advice May 29

See VIC-COVID-FAQs-May-29.pdf

10. Advice on room sizes

From WarrenGreenwood 3 Jun 2020. Updated June 13.



Persons at 4sqm/person


6x9 = 54


Room 2.

6x6.5 = 39


Room 3.

6x6.5 = 39


Room 4.

9.5x4 = 38



18.5 x 12 = 223






11. Synod advice June 4

See VIC-COVID-FAQs-June-4.pdf

12. Presbytery Zoom seminar on OH&S / COVID-19 June 5

The video of the session is available on the Presbytery’s YouTube channel. Some sections have been edited for purposes of clarity of advice.

You are welcome to share the link to the video with other members of your congregation.

Some points of advice relating to rental groups and contractors

  1. If your buildings are being used by different groups, including your own members, the congregation (church council in particular) is responsible for overseeing risk management, including the orientation/induction of contractors and rental groups.
  2. Cleaning and sanitisation is required between each group using any part of the building.
  3. Once you have updated contractors and rental groups on our new standards, they need to do their own risk assessment and management plan and follow it.
  4. It would be wise for congregations to be able to have a way to monitor agreements, including attention to entrance and exit processes, standards of cleaning and sanitisation, physical distancing, keeping of contact registers, and attention paid to food hygiene. This can be done through a signed checklist and the occasional spot check.
  5. Rental agreements and licenses can be amended to include the new requirements.
  6. Should a COVID-19 outbreak occur in a way that is linked with our building, a professional deep cleaning process is required. This can costs thousands of dollars. We are also at risk of being fined if we are found to have been negligent.
  7. The Presbytery is aware that there is often pressure on congregations to open up their buildings, from rental groups, and from a financial perspective. However, the principle of keeping people safe is still our key priority at this time. Take the time required to assess risks, address them and only proceed once you’re sure that you have people, plans and resources needed to open up again.

Elnura Dulakovic, Synod OH&S officer, can be contacted by email at <elnura DOT dulakovic AY victas DOT uca DOT org DOT au>

A user guide to opening our buildings will be ready on the Vic Tas Synod website next week.

13. Synod advice June 11

See VIC-COVID-FAQs-June-11.pdf

14. Government changes from June 22, announced June 14

15. Synod advice June 18

See VIC-COVID-FAQs-June-18.pdf, including:
Synod’s Crisis Management Team is seeking further clarity to be able to provide safe guidelines for morning/afternoon tea and the sharing of meals. Until then, this kind of social gathering should not occur.

16. Government changes June 20

In response to rising numbers of cases, the government has now advised: Restaurants, pubs, auction halls, community centres, libraries, museums and places of worship will maintain their 20-person limits until at least July 12.

17. Synod advice June 22

18. Synod advice June 25

19. Synod advice July 2

20. Revised advice of the renewed restrictions July 8

21. Synod advice July 9

22. Some recent research

23. Synod advice July 16

24. Council decisions July 22

25. Synod advice

26. Advice on Congregation meetings and Council elections

I sought Isabel Thomas Dobson’s advice on this issue. Here’s her response.

"No, there has been no exemption from voters being present. But I would understand that a suitable confidential process either electronic or by post for those who have been present to hear and participate in the discussion would be included in being part of the meeting. The issue of those without network access is more difficult. It would depend on the sorts of issues at a congregational meeting, whether they are formal decision making meetings or information sharing ones as to how to respond."

At the Presbytery we are working with the principle of only people participating in the Zoom meeting being able to vote, whether it’s in the meeting (Zoom polls) or later ( Postal voting would be OK if people phoned into the meeting to listen in and be part of the conversation.

27. Synod advice July 30


28. Synod advice August 6

29. Synod advice Aug 13

30. Recovery action plans

31. Synod advice Aug 20

32. Council meeting Aug 26

33. Synod Advice Aug 27

34. Synod Advice Sep 3

35. State Government Roadmap out of Stage 4

36. Synod advice Sep 10

37. Church Council Sep 23

38. Synod advice Sep 24

39. Presbytery summary of "Road map"

OpeningAfterCoronaVirus (last edited 2020-09-29 00:19:49 by DavidMorgan)