COVID-19 update for churches

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that non-essential indoor meetings with 100 people or less must now maintain physical distancing space of four square metres per person.

This means that rooms and halls will accommodate many less people. To learn how many people can fit into a room, calculate its size in metres and divide by four. This will generally mean that attendance will be seven times smaller than normal – a theatre or lecture room would have allowed .55 square metres normally pre-COVID-19. The rule is keep everybody 1.5 metres apart.

“We’ve got to work even harder to keep a healthy distance between us all,” the Prime Minister said.

“Don’t wait for any other any specific instruction. Do the right thing,” – Prime Minister Scott Morison

The Prime Minister said “every Australian has a role to play” to slow the virus and a role to play “in how they congregate together.”

“Don’t wait to see a sign, don’t wait for any other any specific instruction. Do the right thing, do the common sense thing, and you will save lives,” he said.

The NSW Minister of Health Brad Hazzard also briefed media this afternoon, announcing four confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the congregation of The Sydney Church of Christ’s Ryde Civic Centre Campus who attended a 300-person strong service at the Ryde Civic Centre on 8th March.

The Sydney Church of Christ is not a member of the Churches of Christ denomination. Rather, it is connected to a group called the International Church of Christ ICOC and is regarded as an authoritarian church that practices intense “one-over-one discipling.” It requires a great deal of submission by its members, who are encouraged to live in communal houses.

The NSW Health Minister also said he’d “had cause to be in a church service recently” where nobody had been following the current health recommendations of physical distancing designed to slow the virus’ spread.

He noted this was also the case at Bondi Beach yesterday where some of the many thousands enjoying Sydney’s warm weather were not practising physical separation.

“It doesn’t matter where you are, whether you’re on Bondi or in a church, separate by 1.5 metres,” he said vehemently.

Mr Hazzard’s comments were part of the day’s media briefing in which he announced 382 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in NSW – up 75 confirmed cases from yesterday’s 11am briefing.