Worship Services Guidance
To help break the chain of COVID-19 transmission in PEI, Updated COVID-19 Post Circuit Breaker Holiday Measures are in effect from January 6 to January 25th, 2021.
These CIRCUIT BREAKER measures impact businesses and gatherings and are different from the restrictions PEI residents were asked to observe during the New Normal phase.
The circuit breaker phase restrictions override all other existing sector specific public health guidance. Government of Prince Edward Island COVID-19 recommendations and guidances may be impacted by the CIRCUIT BREAKER measures.
Core measures required by all organizations providing worship services including the following:
- Develop an operational plan detailing how risk of transmission of disease will be mitigated; if an organization is responsible for multiple locations, any relevant unique aspects of the different locations must be addressed.
- Take every reasonable step to ensure minimal interaction of people (including employees and/or clients) within two metres of each other.
- Take every reasonable step required to prevent employees and/or attendees who are required to self-isolate from entering places of worship.
- Develop and follow an exclusion policy that ensures symptomatic employees and/or attendees are immediately excluded from activities.
- Ensure enhanced cleaning and disinfection of shared areas and surfaces.
- Ensure hand washing stations or hand sanitizing products are available and accessible to everyone.
- Support engagement from home wherever possible and feasible (e.g. using virtual or teleconferencing technology).
- Take extra precautions if you are at increased risk, especially those who are aged 65 years and older, have a compromised immune system, and/or have underlying medical conditions.
If gatherings of people to worship together in person:
- Follow Gatherings Guidance.
- If there will be more than one gathering at one time at a facility (indoor or outdoor) or more than 50 people as part of a gathering, Multiple Gatherings Guidance must be followed.
- Advise people who are self isolating or with COVID-19 symptoms to stay home.
- Implement measures to reduce physical contact; physical distancing must be maintained at all times between individuals from different households
- No handshaking or hugging.
- Seating should be arranged or marked to ensure social distancing (e.g. some rows of pews may not be able to be utilized).
- Use separate entrances/exits and/or stagger arrivals and departures times and use visual cues like floor markings to encourage two metre (six feet) physical separation through corridors and entrances/exits.
- Multiple people should not touch the same object, such as tongs, a cup, a font, or collection.
- Where possible, avoid providing attendees with shared items. If items are used that cannot be easily cleaned and disinfected, isolate items in a separate bin (labelled with date of use) for at least 24 hours before being used again.
- Any person who may be within six feet of another person outside of their household should wear a non-medical mask, and practice hand hygiene before putting on the mask and before and after removing the mask.
- Cheering, whistling, singing, and other vigorous vocalization that is not essential to an activity should be minimized when in close proximity to others. If this type of activity is key to the gathering or anticipated to be unavoidable (e.g. cheering at sporting events), distance between individuals from different households should be increased to 3.5m/12ft. Where this is not possible, physical distancing of 2 m (6 ft) should be maintained and it is strongly recommended that non-medical masks be worn.
- The same distancing applies to singing at home-based gatherings.
- Microphones should not be shared to prevent the passing of microphones/subsequent use of microphones between individuals (which are often held very close to people’s mouths). However, depending on the microphone and sanitizer dry time, it may be possible to sanitize between use. One would need to reference:
- the manual for the microphone to determine whether it can be sanitized without damaging the equipment (would depend on the microphone/its surface), and
- the dry time for sanitizer guidelines in terms of how long it takes to dry.
- Associated activities including education programs, meetings, meals, etc. are not covered by this guidance – please refer to guidance for those areas.
- Operations must keep daily records of at minimum, one person per household and the number of individuals per household present. This can be done with a responsible person completing attendance on site or electronically with verification on site. Records including the names and phone number should be kept for one month to facilitate contact tracing in the event of an outbreak. Operations should have an internal process in place to quickly retrieve these records, should the records be needed, even on weekends. These records should be stored in a safe, secure location for one month after creation of the records and then disposed of using a secure destruction method to maintain the confidentiality of participants. For paper records, secure destruction means, at minimum, cross-cut shredding.
- Where washroom access is provided:
- Ensure hand washing stations or hand sanitizing products are available for use, and re –stocked as needed,
- Clean and disinfect frequently, and
- Consider limiting the number of available stalls and urinals to discourage overcrowding in washrooms.
- Print and post signage outlining policies and procedures such as:
- Physical distancing expectations,
- Hand hygiene,
- Respiratory etiquette (coughing and sneezing), and
- Cleaning and disinfection practices and expectations.
- Print and post signage to notify individuals that they should not attend if they have symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, weakness, and/or acute loss of sense of taste and smell.
Drive-in worship services:
- The above guidelines must be adhered to.
- The organized gathering limit would not apply to individuals in cars. If organizers must gather outside to provide the services, the organized gathering limit applies.
- Only individuals from the same household may occupy the same vehicle.
- Vehicles must be separated by a minimum of two metres.
- Individuals are encouraged to remain in their vehicles as much as possible.
- People leaving their vehicles must maintain a minimum of two metres of separation from others at all times.
December 7, 2020