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Coronavirus Covid-19 Update: Level 2 Alert Information and Links to advice

Diocesan Office —

We moved to Alert Level 2 at 11.59 pm on Tuesday 7 September 2021. This has meant some adjustments for faith communities, with a requirement for contract tracing, up to 100 people only indoors and encouragement to wear face coverings. The Diocesan office is open Monday to Friday 9 to 3 pm, please let us know if you want to visit (03 488 0820) and bring your face covering with you.

Please consider how this may impact on any activities you have planned - this includes agreed on maximum numbers with physical distancing and ensuring other hygiene provisions are in place. Remember, you can still receive communion but only in one kind (the bread). Please contact us if you need any support with organising events by Zoom.The main message is to play it safe so we can maintain all of our hard won gains.

We are aligning ourselves with advice-resources from Government sources, including information on Level 2 and have also developed our own Policy and Guidelines around Level 2 including our Pandemic Response Framework. 

We also have a separate article from the Bishop that gives more information to churches around what they need to put into place, including advice around hospitality. 

All churches which remain open under Level 2 must have a COVID-19 Tracing Poster displayed, as well as filling in contract tracing information for anyone attending services or groups. The Diocesan Office is open Monday to Friday 9 to 3 pm, please let us know if you want to visit (03 488 0820) and bring your face covering with you. All staff based at Peter Mann House (Diocesan Office) have been doubly vaccinated. We are working on our Level 2 protocols to allow larger meetings to take place. 

Remember that the vaccine is rolling out - find out more here. 

This is an on-going situation where we need to plan carefully, follow guidance and not let our guard slip as it can only takes one contact to start a new cluster.


Summary of Level 2 for Faith Communities

Groups of up to 100 can meet including weddings and funerals - tangihanga (we have Action Plans in place that put local group number limits in place, so that we can safely distance ourselves in churches). For all group occasions appropriate public health measures include physical distancing and contact tracing measures. We are being encouraged to wear a face covering in any indoor area with others with this being mandatory in retail areas and  public transport (including taxis and uber rides). 

Regular worship services can continue for Churches who have an approved Action Plan from the Bishop. 


Directions for churches: Liturgical practice, hospitality, pastoral care, church activity groups and church office areas

All of our current advice is in our updated Diocese of Dunedin Pandemic Response Framework and the associated Diocese of Dunedin Policy for Ministry and Worship available here. Please review this and provide it for key people involved in ministry in your faith community. 


More Detail on Alert Level 2

Level 2 i.e. Reduce have a variety of requirements we need to meet. These measures, alongside the vaccination programme, are ultimately working towards reducing the impact/eliminating the COVID-19 virus. 

Remember, not all people will choose to be vaccinated for a variety of reasons. Please be kind to each other and see if you can help direct others to reliable sources of information that will help with good decision making. 

We have policies, guidelines and resources that will help you adjust your activities under Level 2.

Key information from the latest Level 2 guidance as it relates to Faith Communities is sumarised below:

Link to Government Advice for Churches at Alert Level 2

The Government advice (22 September 2021) for places of worship is as follows:

At Alert Level 2, places of worship can host services and ceremonies to a maximum of 100 people in any indoor or outdoor defined space. The gathering limits do not include staff — for example, clergy.

Advice for places of worship

  • All places of worship must have ways for attendees to record their visit. This can be done by asking everyone to scan in using the NZ COVID Tracer app, or by recording their contact details manually.
  • Offer online services so people who cannot attend in person can participate.
  • Some religious rituals or practices need close contact — for example, a christening. Try to keep the time spent in close contact to a minimum.
  • Remove communal resources such as prayer mats or prayer books.
  • Encourage attendees to wear a face covering.
  • Clean and sanitise musical instruments and other shared surfaces thoroughly before and after use.
  • Singing, for example church choirs and other types of performance can go ahead. Performers do not need to wear a face covering.
  • You can serve food and drink and host events or functions such as catered morning tea — as long as you keep to the gathering limits.
  • Encourage contactless donations instead of a cash collection box.

Funerals, tangihanga and last rites at Alert Level 2

Weddings and civil unions at Alert Level 2

If you are going to a place of worship

  • We strongly encourage you to wear a face covering when visiting a place of worship.

  • You can mix with friends and whānau, but please be considerate of others and leave enough space for people to keep their distance if they want to.
  • Do not attend a service or prayer if you are unwell.
  • Scan in using the NZ COVID Tracer app or give your details to the place of worship to support contact tracing.
  • Take home any personal items you bring in with you — for example, a prayer mat or prayer beads (or, in our settings, a prayer book)

Celebrations and festivals

At Alert Level 2, you can get together with up to 100 people for a faith-based celebration or festival. The number of people who can attend a gathering or celebration does not include anyone leading or working at the gathering.

If you are organising a faith-based celebration, you need to do the following:

  • Make sure you do not exceed the gathering limits. You can offer a livestream option so more people can attend from home.
  • Keep a record of everyone who attends. You can do this by creating a NZ COVID Tracer app QR code for your venue or location and asking your guests to scan in, or by recording their contact details manually. You do not need to keep contact tracing records if you are hosting a private gathering at your home and everyone knows each other.
  • Make sure the venue is big enough for people to spread out comfortably if they want to.
  • Provide seated table service if you are serving food or drinks. Try to seat extended household bubbles together at one table and place the tables 2 metres apart to help with physical distancing.

Travelling to a faith-based gathering at Alert Level 2

At Alert Level 2, you can travel to other regions that are at Alert Level 1 or 2 to attend a faith-based gathering — such as services, ceremonies and festivals. If the gathering is in an Alert Level 2 region, the gathering limits apply.

If you are travelling to an Alert Level 1 region to attend a faith based gathering, make sure you do it in a safe way. This includes:

  • keeping a record of who you have been in contact with, and what transport services you used
  • wearing a face covering on public transport services and flights
  • keeping a 2 metre distance from people you do not know
  • regularly washing or sanitising your hands.

How to wear a mask — Image by: World Health Organisation

How to wear a fabric mask safely World Health Organization (WHO)

Only controlled gatherings will be permitted  (a maximum of up to 100 indoors) while maintaining public health hygiene, physical distancing and contact tracing requirements. This is to reduce the risk when people who know each other well socialise or fellowship together. 

Diocese of Dunedin Returning to Church Safely at Alert Level 2 Called South

Any small or larger church related groups or services must conform to public health measures including washing hands, keeping surfaces clean, limiting numbers to allow safe physical distancing and noting attendees for contact tracing. An Action Plan for these must be signed off by the Bishop. Smaller gatherings/groups can still take place on-line with no restrictions. 

More about Gathering and Events

You can have friends and family over to your home, but play it safe — keep surfaces clean, wash your hands, and keep the numbers low so you can practice safe distancing. Please note, home groups or any other church related small group can meet in private homes if an Action Plan around this has been prepared and signed off (see also a Small Group checklist to help you prepare your plan).

Please note we don't recommend you offer hospitality at Level 2. If you intend to, it must be signed off in your Action Plan

Are you potentially an at-risk person?

There is guidance for people at higher risk of COVID-19. It includes advice under the different Alert Levels, who is at higher risk, and how they can protect themselves. Information for at-risk people

Key additional points for all of us:

  • Ensure you follow directives for places you visit or work in (see our posters on Church Safety and Church office areas)
  • Be kind. Make a difference by checking-in on others, especially the elderly and vulnerable.
  • Look after anyone that needs help. Drop supplies to those at home sick and ensure you have no physical contact.
  • Keep up your physical distancing habits and other ways of staying in touch with more vulnerable people i.e. the phone, a video messaging system or something similar 

Got symptoms or have health questions? 

Call your GP before you visit. Or call Healthline on 0800 358 5453. If you feel unwell, remain at home.

Not sure who to talk to? 

If you’re not sure what assistance may be available, or you don’t know who to contact for help, phone the Government Helpline on 0800 779 997 (8am – 10pm, 7 days a week). 

The Ministry of Health recommends that you should follow the usual precautions including:

Staying safe and well

At every alert level people should take measures to stay safe and well.

  • Regularly disinfect surfaces
  • Wash and dry your hands thoroughly and regularly
  • Don’t touch your face
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Get tested for COVID-19 if you have flu like symptoms – call your GP or Healthline on 0800 358 5453. 
  • Continue to seek primary medical care.

Anyone who has returned to New Zealand from overseas must abide by NZ government requirements. Currently this is to remain at a Government organised quarantine facility. This involves self-isolating by staying indoors and avoid contact with other people for 14 days from the date of arrival and then follow lock down procedures until advised otherwise. 

Want to know more? See the Government's dedicated COVID-19 webpage

For more information, click here.

The Diocesan office is very happy to answer any queries you may have. Please contact Andrew Metcalfe.