Churches get equal gathering rights with pubs and clubs

Fifty or ten? State by state

A gap between churches and other forms of gatherings in NSW has been closed. From June 1 up to 50 people will be able to gather in churches, just like in a pub and other places.

On Tuesday the government eased the regulations for hospitality venues-clubs, pubs and restaurants, but left the limit on places of worship at ten. But this gap has now been closed, even before it came into effect, by an announcement last night.

The four metre rule still applies in every state, so a gathering of 50 will require a space of 200 square metres, with a 1.5 metre gap between people. This will rule out most church buildings.

The ABC reported the change to 50 persons at a religious services in NSW. The changes announced for June 1 places NSW ahead in relaxing these rules for churches and hospitality.

Vic, WA, SA, ACT are at 20 In Victoria restaurants can have up to 20 seated patrons in any enclosed space, increasing to 50 on June 21. The same number applies to religious ceremonies “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.” But as was the case in NSW the easing of restrictions for restaurants has been announced, but not for churches.

In WA Dine in restaurants and churches are both restricted to 20 patrons. The June 1 plan for SA also allows 20 people in any one public space, and 20 patrons in a dine in facility. UPDATE SA has announced 80 people will be able to meet in a “public gathering” from June 1. The ACT also has a 20 person limit on business and churches.

Qld and TAS limit is ten. In Queensland both hospitality (ten patrons) and worship (ten people) remain tightly restricted. Tasmania similarly has a limit of ten for hospitality and public worship.

The Australian Christian Lobby’s NSW Director  Kieren Jackson had said the NSW rules which favoured hospitality venues over churches “failed the pub test,” adding “man does not live by bread alone.” All true.