Tough new rules for churches in Victoria's roadmap out of lockdown

Victoria’s roadmap out of lockdown has set caps for church services, with different quotas for vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

At 70 per cent of the population over 16 double dosed:

“Fully vaccinated: Outdoor only, DQ4 [One person per 4sq metre rule] 50 [person] cap.”
“Unknown vaccination status: Outdoor only, DQ4, 20 cap.”

At 80 per cent of the population over 16 double dosed:

Fuel your faith every Friday with our weekly newsletter

“Fully vaccinated: Indoors, DQ4 and 150 cap. Outdoors DQ2 and 500 cap.”
“Unknown vaccination status: Outdoor only, DQ4, 20 cap.”

The provision for unvaccinated people to attend church is unusual in that other venues – sport, recreation, community facilities only have vaccinated targets with no provision for the unvaccinated.

The 70 per cent target is expected to be reached around October 26, and the 80 per cent on November 5.

The ABC has interpreted the vax and unvax rule as one combined gathering “There will be room for a limited number of unvaccinated worshippers or mourners, but the vast majority will need to have had two jabs.”

However, this certainly does not appear to apply for indoor services, which start after the 80 per cent target. The logic seems to be, if the meeting is not of only vaxxed people you have a lower cap.

It appears that the government possibly is suggesting two services for this interim period.

Update: the words “outdoor only” in the 80 per cent limits for churches which I have bolded above is missing in two versions of the roadmap pdf linked in today’s statement. But it is included in an announcement on the Premier’s page. This is hugely significant for churches, and certainly will be clarified. Update 2: The ABC in a later article takes the view that Eternity has: you can have a meeting with the vaxxed number or a smaller one if you don’t want to check vax status. “Religious services will be allowed outdoors only with DQ4 limits and a cap of 50 people if fully vaccinated. That drops to 20 if the vaccination status is unknown, ” the ABC notes about the 70 per cent rules..

A further target is 80 per cent double-dosed vaccination of the over 12 population. This is when the “National Plan” kicks in, and a “living with covid strategy. At this stage, international borders are opened and “minimise cases in the community without ongoing restrictions or lockdowns”.  The Vic plan says this will allow 30 visitors to the home. The indicative date for this is November 19.

If this is a date for further relaxation, the need to keep unvaxxed out of church buildings should be lifted by then – or there could be a future target perhaps of 80 per cent of the over 5s.