IMPORTANT CHURCH CHANGES DUE TO COVID-19 PANDEMIC
- Update from the COVID-19 Response Team [February 22, 2022]
Dear brothers and sisters:
Wishing everyone God’s peace and grace amidst the difficulties we are facing in the pandemic.
Thank you for following all public health guidelines to control Covid-19. Thank you to everyone who have worked faithfully to prepare for our re-opening.
In our last update from Feb 6, we informed everyone that we were resuming in-person worship. With the improving conditions in the pandemic such as high vaccination rate, high infection rate with Omicron causing mostly mild disease but strong natural immunity, effective treatments for Covid and decreased hospitalizations, we have entered a new pandemic phase.
The Ontario government has recognized this with its plan to gradually remove pandemic restrictions. Instead of restrictions to prevent Covid which used to cause severe illness and death, the new strategy is to allow Covid-19 to spread since the Omicron variant mostly causes mild disease while conferring natural immunity. This hopefully will lead to herd immunity and the end of the pandemic.
Although, in the past, we had a strict 8 layers of protection which successfully prevented any spread of Covid in our church, in the future we will be following the Ontario government guidelines. We may see spread of Covid in our church in the future. Since Omicron causes mild disease while conferring natural immunity, we see this as acceptable.
Omicron can still cause severe illness in those who have a weak immune system such as the elderly and the immune-compromised. For this group, we highly recommend that you continue to use maximal protection. (get full vaccination, use a KN95 mask, ask others to keep 2 metres from you etc)
Everyone must follow all the Covid guidelines.
We highly recommend that everyone complete their Covid vaccinations and get their third dose of Covid vaccine as soon as they are eligible.
The reason for the above is that 2 doses of the vaccine give 30% protection from getting infected by Omicron while 3 doses give 70% protection. 2 doses give 70% protection from severe illness and hospitalization while 3 doses give 90%.
If you were exposed to Covid or have any symptoms, please take this self-assessment which will tell you what to do:
We will continue to monitor the course of the pandemic in the GTA closely and give further guidance as needed.
The guidelines below have been revised from the last version that was effective Feb 6, 2022 and will be the defining version effective March 1, 2022. All changes are in red.
Peace and grace,
GCGCNY Covid-19 Response Team
GCGCNY Covid-19 guidance.
Effective March 1, 2022
I. Our General Guiding Principles
- We will balance government recommendations with an extra margin of safety and caution and the principles and practices of our Christian Faith and our church.
- We will consider all health and occupational safety concerns.
- We will work within the law and government guidelines since these so far have not had areas of conflict with our beliefs.
- We recognize that our congregations are interconnected as a community of families which has members attending different congregations.
- The pastoral team will have input before we finalize any guidelines.
- We will take a proactive approach. We will anticipate future developments rather than only react to present and past developments.
- We will be monitoring the course of the pandemic in GTA closely. If infection rates start going up, we may halt the re-opening plan or go backwards in the re-opening stages.
- The Covid-19 Crisis Response Team welcomes everyone’s feedback, comments, suggestions and questions. We strive to reflect our values of love, faith, hope, unity, truth and transparency in this process and in our decisions and implementation. Our contact is: firstname.lastname@example.org (416) 499-0111 x 101.
- Each lead pastor may decide to implement each stage at a later date than this guidance’s earliest dates in accordance with the needs and resources in each congregation.
II. Requirements for coming to the church during any stage
To ensure the safety and health of everyone and to follow government guidelines, whenever anyone comes to the church, we require that:
- They are not ill (no fever, no chills, no cough, no shortness of breath, no runny/congested nose, no sore throat, no decrease or loss of taste or smell, no vomiting, nausea or diarrhea, no marked tiredness, no sore muscles or joints, no headaches.) They have not been told to self-isolate or live with someone who has been told to self-isolate. They should self-check their temperature before leaving their home.
- They have not been in contact with anyone with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 in the last 14 days.
- They will not require proof of vaccination. It is still highly recommend that everyone get all the Covid vaccine doses that they are eligible for.
- They will not have to maintain physical distancing of at least 2 metres. But if anyone ask that you keep 2 metres distance from them, please respect their request.
- They follow frequent meticulous hand washing and hand sanitization.
- Until the government not require wearing a mask, they wear a well-fitted 3-layered medical grade mask. Properly worn and well fitted N95 or KN95 masks if available and tolerated would give better protection. Please respect those who choose to continue wearing a mask after the government requirement ends
- No food or drink are allowed in the gyms and sanctuaries A and B except for a personal container of water. (no coffee, tea or other beverages that cause a mess when spilled.)
- For worship servers on stage, only one is allowed to lead without a mask or face covering behind the Plexiglas barrier. More than one is allowed if they are from the same social bubble. The Plexiglas must be disinfected between use by different worship servers unless the servers are from the same social bubble. This restriction will end when the government ends indoor masking requirement.
- Choir and group worship leading will be allowed. The requirement for masking will continue until the government ends indoor masking requirement.
- Until the government ends masking requirement, each person must supply and wear their own 3-layered medical grade mask. Extra ones should be brought so that if the mask becomes wet from singing, it is changed immediately. Everyone is asked to put on his mask properly with good fit on the skin so that there is no leakage where the mask touches the skin.
- Congregational/group singing will be allowed.
- They must use only the designated entrances and exits. They must walk only in the direction of the arrows when arrows are present.
- Church attendees must not enter into the Grace Nursery School area since they have re-opened and have to follow strict infection control protocol from the government.
- Only designated washrooms will be opened.
- Room use must be prebooked with Queenie at email@example.com (416) 499-0111 x 101 at least 1 week in advance. Information needed for booking are the person responsible and his/her contact info, the number of attendees expected and the time slot required. In booking the room, the person booking the room agrees to bear the responsibility that all government and church guidelines are followed by his/her group. He/she must make sure that the room is clean, all furniture put back in place and all garbage is taken home for disposal. He/she must turn on the air purifiers (if available) in the room before the meeting and turn them off after the meeting.
- Eating and drinking will be allowed in the classrooms. All food and drinks, disposable plates and utensils must be brought in. All garbage must be taken home for disposal. There will be no use of the kitchens. A microwave oven will be set up in the hallway outside of the small south side kitchen. The water fountains will remain closed.
III. Church Re-opening Stages:
- Live streaming at church NOW
- Adult Worship NOW
- Prayer meeting virtual or in person per lead pastors
- Cell groups- meeting at church or at home Starting March 1, can be in person.
- Sunday School virtual or in person per lead pastors
- Children activities. virtual or in person per Children’s pastor
- use of the gyms for sports, sharing food & drinks NOT YET
- New normal church function (virtual and/or in person subject to ministry needs) NOT YET
Starting March 1, we will be open for stage 6 of the above with the lead pastors making the decisions for each congregation.
Further re-opening of new stages will be based on the above General Guiding Principles and be subject to available human, organizational, financial, supply and equipment and technological resources.
IV. Specific guidance for each stage
Stage 2 – in-person worship service:
- Everyone can seat anywhere.
- No Pre-registration will be required.
Stage 4 – in-person cell groups:
- In-person cells or any gathering will be limited to room fire safety occupancy limit at church.
Your continued prayers would be appreciated.
Psalm 91: 1-6 (NIV) １Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a] 2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” 3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. 5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
If you have any comments, suggestions, feedback or questions, please contact us through firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grace and peace,
Covid-19 Response Team
Rev Chan – representing the church staff
Queenie – representing the Cantonese congregation
Edwin – representing the Mandarin congregation
Sylvia – representing the English congregation
Felicity – representing the Children congregation
TK – team lead and representing the church Board of Directors
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