Emergency Response

Regional Communication

March 18, 2022

Dear members of Fundy St. Lawrence Dawning Waters Regional Council (Prince Edward Island):

Over the past two years, so many messages regarding Covid-19 guidance and memos, have been sent from my office to all pastoral charges. I remember two years ago when we all had to make the difficult decision to shut down for what we thought, at the time, would be two weeks. We have now turned the corner to a new reality. As of March 17, 2022, PEI is in Step 2 of the Moving On Transition Plan to Living with COVID-19. The PEI Vax Pass program requiring proof of vaccination to access certain discretionary events and activities is no longer in effect. Public Health guidance now in effect includes: practice physical distancing where possible; stay home when you are sick or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19; and wear a mask in indoor public places.

I have reached out to our legal counsel, inquiring as to whether our churches can still require proof of vaccination if it is no longer mandated by our governments and health authorities. I was told my inquiry is quite timely, as this was the current topic of discussion amongst their legal colleagues. As we have never been in a pandemic before, we have no precedent as to whether congregations can require people to provide personal health information, i.e. proof of vaccination, when the government is no longer requiring such mandates.

Given that a proof of vaccination reveals personal health information, which is private, the understanding is that a congregation cannot legally compel anyone to provide such information and bar entry if they don’t. While at this point there is not a definitive answer, and we are awaiting more information, I am inclined to advise that proof of vaccination no long be part of the process for access to church entry.

Currently at Phase 2: The following changes to public health measures are now in effect:

• Personal gatherings of 20 people indoors and 50 people outdoors;

• Organized gatherings of up to 75% capacity, with space being maximized to allow for as much physical distancing as possible;

• Wedding receptions, funeral receptions and stand up receptions of up to 100 people

• Masks are mandatory in all enclosed public spaces in Prince Edward Island including; Places of worship and faith gatherings Other public health measures remain in effect. Please see the link below for those measures https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/health-and-wellness/step-2-public-health-measures-guidance

Step 3 (estimated to begin April 7, 2022) – It is anticipated that we will see the removal of personal and organized gathering and capacity limits, no anticipated masking requirements and point of entry screening no longer conducted.

While we know the virus will still be with us after the April date, I feel it is wise to proceed with a degree of caution. Therefore, I would suggest, that as you make your plans for reopening post public restrictions, that you do so slowly.

1. Hand sanitizer be available throughout the building. There is no restriction on sharing items, such as pens for guest books or hymn books at worship services. It will be important to have Sanitizer readily available and encourage its use as well as hand washing.
2. As the mask mandates begin to lift in the next phase, (projected April 7) you may wish at that time to encourage your congregations to continue to wear masks until you get a sense of how things are in the community. Another option would be to allow masks to be taken off while seated but worn when singing or moving around the building. After a few months with lower case counts you may then feel comfortable to allow masking to be discontinued.
3. You may wish to begin with physical distancing by separation between rows, but not between seats. Asking people to sit in their bubbles where possible. If people are nervous and wish to be distanced from others, have ushers available for help with seating.
4. For coffee times or times when food will be served you may consider requiring people to be seated while eating and drinking. It would be good to avoid buffet style for the time being, and have people serving food.
5. You may consider having your youth and children’s programming with the requirement of masks.
6. Offering plates could continue to be placed in the church for offering and not passed around. You may also wish continue to highlight other giving options; Pre-Authorized Remittance, Postdated Cheques, etc.
7. Caution should continue to be taken with Baptism and Communion.
8. Caution should continue to be taken with visitation at institutions and personal homes of congregants.

As these are the hoped-for next steps, let us do so with great care for one another. Let us continue to be patient and kind, as everyone will not be in the same place when it comes to their comfort levels. Ministry & Personnel Committees, please remember to check in on your staff.

Let us, with grace and courage, walk into this next phase with love for one another foremost on our minds and in our hearts. If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to be in contact,

Blessings,

Faith

Faith March-MacCuish
Executive Minister

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Previous updates are available in date order using this link

 or by clicking on Quick Links, Regional Covid-19 Updates, Links and Notices at the top right of this page.

Emergency Coordinator

Emergency Coordinator for Fundy St. Lawrence Dawning Waters Regional Council and Regional Council 15 Office is Tracey Rose and she will be the person who will send out communication to the Regions.

Tracey Rose
Fundy St. Lawrence Dawning Waters Regional Council / Regional Council 15
Phone: 1-800-268-3781 | Ext. 6142
Email: trose@united-church.ca

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