Pastoral Letter: Bishop Bryan Bayda, CSsR:
Updated 2020-06-01 COVID Instructions for the Eparchy of Saskatoon
To the Reverend Clergy, Members of Religious Orders and Faithful of the
Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon
My April 2, 2020 Pastoral letter said this:
As COVID-19 information is constantly updated, so must we continue to learn from our science and health communities about the virus, ways to self-check for symptoms and best practices. Likewise, we must continue to update ourselves regarding the spiritual impact of this pandemic and be revitalized about how to spiritually strengthen ourselves and others. We don’t have the comfort of adopting a spiritual routine and then leave it at that, such as reading a directive that may be days old and think it won’t be updated. That is why I continue to meet, by Zoom and telephone, to bring to you the best practices and directives. No one should make decisions in these days without consultation, for the Holy Spirit speaks through all of us.
May 23, 2020 update says: I am pleased to say that I am proposing new options to proceed with in our churches given the fact that there is a learning curve that is outstanding in Saskatchewan in the public about preventing the spread of the COVID virus.
As always, I have checked with medical professionals to vet the new directions. . . . .
As of June 1, 2020: The latest update from the Saskatchewan government is the following pulled down from the website on June 1, 2020. This is about educating faithful to interact with each other in a safe manner given this situation. REMEMBER: There is still no obligation for anyone to attend service in a church as a group or to receive communion. This is in place until the end of the pandemic.
Places of Worship Guidelines
For general workplace guidelines, please refer to COVID-19 Workplace Information. All businesses operating in Saskatchewan must be in compliance with these guidelines. The information below provides specific information for places of worship.
The Government of Saskatchewan, in consultation with leaders from faith communities in the province, developed guidelines for places of worship to resume service. These guidelines apply to indoor and outdoor gatherings, except where more specific provincial guidance exists, such as the Drive-in or Remote Worship Services Guidelines. (or see appendix below.)
These initial guidelines are intended to support a return to in-person services for places of worship. Further guidelines will be forthcoming to address additional critical services, pastoral care and community supports provided by faith-based institutions in Saskatchewan. The initial guidelines are intended to allow places of worship that choose to return to service to do so safely and guard against the transmission of COVID-19.
Places of worship should only return to service once they are able to safely implement the controls identified in these guidelines.
1) Guidelines for Accommodating Worship
- Effective June 8, 2020, places of worship may resume services providing social distancing of two metres can be maintained between each individual household. The allowable occupancy is one-third of the defined occupancy rate of the facility to a maximum of 30 individuals for the initial stage of re-opening.
- Delivering services virtually or through remote delivery such as drive-in service is encouraged.
- Where possible, registration of participants is encouraged to effectively manage the number of individuals attending. Registration should be facilitated to discourage attendees from common-use items such as pens and pencils. (It is suggested that slips of paper with names of those attending should be prepared when a household attends. Use the Health Authority Log found below. This could also be in an envelope with the offering. The list of names should be collected for the sake of tracking should there be an outbreak later).
- Attendees who are medically vulnerable are strongly encouraged to delay their return to services and continue to participate in services online, where possible.
- Attendees, employees and volunteers are required to stay home if sick or symptomatic.
- Places of worship will be required to identify measures by which entry and exit is managed to ensure physical distancing is maintained.
- Promote physical distancing by marking the directional flow of people through buildings and areas. Mark seating areas and post visual reminders to observe physical distancing.
- Individuals from the same household may be seated together and should remain in place once they are seated.
- Seating (or designated worship space) must be arranged so that physical distancing can be observed at all times. Consideration must be given to how people enter and exit pews and other seating areas. A minimum of two metres must be maintained between household groups.
- If multiple gatherings are held on a single day, the start and end times must allow those who attend one gathering to exit safely, avoiding contact with those arriving for the next gathering. Time is needed to clean and disinfect common surfaces between services.
- Dismissal of gatherings should be done in a way that supports physical distancing.
- All ancillary events, such as social events, should be postponed for the immediate future.
- Where possible, consider managing parking lot assignments to ensure physical distancing is maintained.