Faith-based services pose a risk for spreading COVID-19. The gathering size creates a risk on its own. These activities can be risky:
- sharing of ceremonial objects, food and drink;
- singing; and
- playing wind instruments.
People over 65 years of age and people with underlying medical conditions are most at risk. These guidelines are in place to keep the most vulnerable among us safe.
6 steps to staying safe
- Maintain physical distancing – keep 2 metres away from everyone who’s not a member of your bubble.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Stay home if you’re feeling sick.
- Don’t gather in groups of more than 10 people indoors or 50 outdoors, and remember to keep 2 metres (6 feet) apart.
- Limit travel to rural communities, and be respectful when you’re there.
- Self-isolate if you’ve:
- just returned to Yukon and have been outside of British Columbia, Nunavut or Northwest Territories in the last 14 days; or
- been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19.
Permitted services and activities
To reduce transmission and support physical distancing, we recommend reduced gatherings. No more than 50 people can attend services or 1/3 of building capacity, whichever is less. To reduce attendance, encourage activities that permit alternative forms of participation. Recommend other methods of gathering, such as online or drive-in service delivery.
Drive-in services must take place in designated areas and meet the following requirements:
- congregants remain in their vehicles ‒ if this is not possible, observe physical distancing;
- frequent cleaning and disinfection of washrooms must occur throughout the event ‒ learn more about cleaning and disinfecting;
- anyone who is feeling sick or symptomatic must remain at home.
Activities may be in separate rooms within a single place of worship. Each room should be no more than 1/3 occupied up to a limit of 50 people and physical distancing should be maintained. Groups must not intermingle and should use separate entrances and washrooms.
Organizers must complete an operational plan. A template is available online. Organizers can submit their plans to COVID19info@gov.yk.ca for review. However, they are not required to do so. The plan should be available if Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board (YWCHSB) visit the place of worship.
Organizers are encouraged to provide their congregation with specific rules for participating in faith-based activities, based on this guidance document. Organizers are welcome to submit these rules with their operational plans.
Infection prevention and control measures
Use the 6 steps to staying safe and these guidelines to plan services and activities.
- Physical distancing of 2 metres (6 feet) must be observed between congregants. People from the same household or combined households can sit together.
- Post signs and provide verbal reminders. Mark seating areas and directional flow of people through places of worship.
- Download physical distancing posters.
- People may wear non-medical masks. It is not required if they observe physical distancing.
- Social gatherings before and after faith-based activities are not recommended.
- Leave adequate time between events to clean and disinfect common surfaces and allow people to exit and enter places of worship in a safe manner.
Cleaning and disinfection
Organizers should increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting. This includes common, high-touch areas:
- light switches;
- elevator buttons; and
- ceremonial objects.
Frequently clean and disinfect washrooms. Warm running water, liquid soap and paper towels should be available. Refer to Yukon’s guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting the workplace.
Encourage hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette while in a place of worship. This includes:
- cough and sneeze into your elbow, or a tissue;
- discard tissues into a lined garbage bin and wash your hands afterwards;
- tell congregants to perform their ablutions at home;
- put out hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol content ‒ it should be at facility entrances, exits and other high traffic areas;
- download hand-washing posters;
- everyone should use the COVID-19 self-assessment tool before visiting a place of worship ‒ if you have symptoms, stay home; and
- medically vulnerable people should take part in services online, when possible.
Registration of attendees can help with contact tracing efforts. This will make it easier to limit spread in the event that someone gets COVID-19. Discard attendance lists after 30 days.
Here are some guidelines for high‑risk activities that often occur in places of worship.
Singing and live music
Singing is a high-risk activity. This is because the virus spreads greater distances through saliva or respiratory droplets. Playing woodwind and brass instruments may also increase the spread of the virus. This is also due to saliva or respiratory droplets. Singing is not recommended, but if services include singing take the following precautions:
- limit the number of people singing in the same place; and
- increase the distance between the singer(s) and the congregation ‒ this can prevent transmission of respiratory droplets.
Physical contact and shared items
- Handshaking, hugging, touching or passing objects between people is not permitted.
- Change faith-based rituals that involve physical contact between people. These rituals need to change to maintain physical distancing.
- If this is not possible, increase hand hygiene to mitigate risk.
- Only touch ceremonial objects with proper hand hygiene. Wash or sanitize hands with 60% alcohol before and after touching the object. Clean and disinfect the object on a regular basis.
- Donation collection plates or baskets are not to pass between congregants. Online donations or a designated area to place offerings or donations is recommended.
- Do not hand out or share items if they cannot be cleaned and sanitized before and after each use.
- Do not share microphones between people. These are difficult to clean and disinfect. Limit the number of people providing readings or speeches that need a microphone.
- Congregants should bring their own items. Do not share books and prayer mats.
- Discard printed materials after service is complete.
Take the following precautions if food or drink are part of a faith-based ritual:
- serve food and drink in pre-packaged or individual portions;
- do not share these items:
- food and drink utensils;
- coffee pots;
- snack bowls; and
- water or milk pitchers.
Physical contact between people serving food or drink and congregants must not occur. People serving should wash or sanitize their hands immediately before and after serving.
Find more information about COVID-19. If you have non-medical questions, phone the COVID-19 toll-free InfoLine 1-877-374-0425 between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m., 7 days a week.