September 22, 2021

Dear Brother Priests and Faithful in the Eparchy of Saskatoon:

I hope that you have had a restful summer and that you remain healthy and safe. As the COVID infection rate rises in Saskatchewan, today the Government has announced new public health orders. You
can find all of these details on the government website at: https://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/health-care-administration-and-provider-resources/treatment-procedures-and-guidelines/emerging-public-health-issues/2019-novel-coronavirus/public-health-measures

The details affecting places of worship are as follows:

Mandatory mask order:
Effective on Friday, September 17, masks must be worn in every indoor public space. This means that places of worship will need to ensure that all attending services are wearing masks. It also means that anyone in your buildings must be masked at all times.

Is there a worship leader exemption? We are expecting that specific guidelines will be prepared to implement this mandatory mask order.

There will probably be an exemption for the principal worship leader and for the employees in the privacy of their offices. However, these guidelines have not been released yet, so the precise details are unknown. Until further notice, please wear masks indoors at all

Proof of vaccination:
Effective October 1, there will be a proof of vaccination policy affecting public access to numerous businesses and other public buildings. Places of worship are exempt from the proof of vaccination policy.

The Government is requiring vaccination for all government employees and is asking private employers to implement a similar policy. Places of worship are free to implement this policy if you choose, but it will not be mandated by government.

It is hoped that once the proof of vaccination policy is implemented that masking will not be required.
It is not clear whether masking will still be required in those places exempt from the proof of vaccination policy.

The government is committed to providing a simple mechanism for displaying a proof of vaccination
or proof of negative test. This will be available by October 1.

Mandatory self-isolation:
Already announced last week, the government is requiring that all people who test positive for COVID self-isolate for 10 days. Unvaccinated people with a close contact must isolate for 14 days.
Fully vaccinated people who have a close contact must self-monitor.
The mandatory self-isolation order does not directly affect places of worship. However, anyone who suspects that they might be infected with a communicable disease is required to seek testing and avoid close interactions with others.
We expect to have further details on the implementation of these policies in the next days.

In summary:
Please continue to be cautious and prudent. Encourage regular hand sanitizing. Physical distancing is
not required but is encouraged. Physical touching (shaking hands, hugging, etc…) is discouraged. There
are no indications yet whether there will be limits on serving food or beverages in places of worship.
The Public Health Order (dated Sept. 16) includes details that may be of interest to faith communities.
See the excerpts below or the full PHO at: https://www.saskatchewan.ca/-/media/files/coronavirus/public-health-measures/public-health-orders/provincial-order—provincial-order-september-16-2021.pdf

Section 4. (c)(vi) clarifies that the worship leader may be unmasked when distanced by 3 metres from others. Note that “leading
a service” is defined by the act of speaking and proximity to the podium. This would not apply to a choir or band leading a
worship service.

4. (c)(vii) refers to musical performers playing wood or brass instruments only. These musicians are permitted to be unmasked
when properly distanced. We have asked for clarity about soloists and other singers.

4. (d)(ii) answers a question received about distribution of Communion. It is permissible to lower the mask briefly to consume
the elements, however this should be done carefully.

4. (d)(vi) is similar to the previous masking order. This permits people in the privacy of their offices to remove their masks.
When another staff person or visitor enters the office, everyone should wear a mask.

Excerpts from Public Health Order, Sept 16, 2021:
Section 4 (c): Face coverings are not required for the following individuals:

(i) Individuals aged two and under;

(ii) Individuals aged three to twelve who are not reasonably able to wear a face covering;

(iii) Subject to subsection (g), individuals who, in the determination of a health professional, are unable to wear a face covering due to a particular medical condition and have received written confirmation of same in accordance with subsection (f);

(iv) Individuals who, due to cognitive impairment, an intellectual disability, or a severe mental health condition, are unable to understand the requirement;

(vi) Individuals who are leading a service, ceremony, or other public event while speaking from a podium, lectern, platform, stage, desk or other standing or seating area dedicated to speaking, but only when the individual can maintain a distance of three metres from other individuals;

(vii) Individuals playing a woodwind, brass, or other instrument operated by breath, but only if they can maintain a distance of three metres from other individuals, as measured from the mouth or opening/bell end of the instrument, whichever is closest, to another individual while playing;

  1. (d) Face coverings are not required in the following circumstances:

(ii) Where it is necessary for an individual to uncover their nose, mouth, or chin for the purposes of receiving a health or personal service, for the duration of the treatment or service only;

(vi) While alone in an area of an enclosed setting to which members of the public do not normally have access.

Yours in Christ,

Very Rev. Father Janko Kolosnjaji,
Rector, Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of St. George
Vicar and Chancellor for the Eparchy of Saskatoon

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