Emergency Response

Regional Communication

 

October 14, 2021

Dear Regional Council 15 Members (Nova Scotia),

 Please see below the information received on October 13, 2021 from Dr. Strang. This information applies to all areas of Nova Scotia.

 In recognition of the importance of allowing families to morn the passing of a loved one, I am pleased to inform you that the Public Health Order, Section 16.8, has been revised to incorporate legal authority for a business or organization (including a faith organization) to host a funeral service outside the Proof of Vaccine Protocol if it adheres to the following: 

  1. a maximum of 25 persons attend (excluding the officiant and funeral home staff);
  2. all persons in attendance wear a mask at the funeral service, both indoors and outdoors;
  3. all persons (staff and attendees) who are unwell do not attend the funeral service; and
  4. any business or organization that hosts a funeral service outside the parameters set out sections (a) to (c) must adhere to the POV Protocol.

 The online information will be revised to reflect this change (if not already done so).

https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/restrictions-and-guidance/#gatherings

 Please note that this change applies only to a funeral service and not a visitation or reception.  It also does not apply to wedding services.

 Dr. Strang would also like to pass along a Thank You for your ongoing support to the province’s response to the COVID 19 pandemic.

 

Sincerely,

 Faith

Faith March-MacCuish

Executive Minister

                                                        _______________________

October 6, 2021

Dear members of Regional Council 15 (Nova Scotia):

Since the Covid-19 update, dated October 4, 2021, I have been asked questions about the Vaccination Policies for our churches in Nova Scotia, and for clarification of some of the recommendations for congregational gatherings.

I have been in touch with our General Council Office legal counsel, with the following question, and offer the following opinion:

Q: If the government does not make it mandatory to show proof of vaccination for worship, can the governing body (Board/Council) make it policy for their Community of Faith?  If they do [make it mandatory to show proof of vaccination], will they be going against the law?

A: According to the Government of Nova Scotia website, “Business and organizations can set their own vaccination policies if proof of vaccination isn’t required under the proof of full vaccination protocol and for their employees. People who are not fully vaccinated need to be able to access essential services. Policies should take legal and ethical implications into consideration.”  [We] understand that to mean a policy is acceptable as long as there are accommodation/alternatives for those who cannot be vaccinated e.g. on-line United Church services are available.  

The risk of legal ramifications for a community of faith instituting a proof of vaccination policy for worship services is deemed to be very low. However, governing bodies need to know there’s a slight risk that their policies would be held to be illegal. Nobody can say for certain the policies would be legal until there is legislation or civil court decisions confirming that. It is recommended that the governing body should consider all the pros and cons and do what they think is best for their faith community. 

I would like to take this opportunity to once again remind you that, as of October 4, 2021, Nova Scotia moved into phase 5 (five).  This Phase is being described as the new normal, living with COVID. As of October 4, 2021, there will be no gathering limits for events hosted by a business or organization, which include: weddings, funerals, and faith gatherings.

As outlined in the October 4, 2021 memo:

  • Wearing a non-medical mask is required in most indoor public places, which includes places of worship and faith gatherings.
  • You need proof of full vaccination to go to, or participate in, discretionary, non-essential events, activities and services that gather people together, including:
  • indoor and outdoor events and activities like receptions, social events, conferences and training that are hosted by a business or organization
  • indoor and outdoor wedding ceremonies and funerals (including receptions and visitations) that are hosted by a business or organization
  • community meetings in rental spaces, or where the public may be present (like annual general meetings of businesses or organizations)
  • training hosted by a business or organization (like driver training or courses offered by a business that provides training) and any training using a rental space.

Proof of full vaccination isn’t required at faith services, but all other activities require proof of vaccination.

For further understanding of this policy for our churches:

“Any activities held by a faith organization other than a regular faith service (such as daily/weekly service) is subject to the proof of vaccine policy.  If it is a regular group with the same people then proof of vaccination can be obtained once and does not need to be done each time the group meets.”

  • Church groups that gather outside of the church property, such as home-hosted Bible study, would be an “informal gathering” so no proof of vaccination is required but the maximum number of people allowed in a private home gathering is 25.
  • The rules for “faith services” apply to children’s ministry that happens at church on Sunday morning.

We have also had some questions regarding the need for records for contact tracing. Under the Covid-19 Protocols for Workplaces, it is recommended that:

  1. Use a daily sign in sheet (legible) or similar tracking method for employees and visitors to allow contact tracing in the event of an exposure. Include name, contact information, and time/duration on site.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to be in touch at fmaccuish@united-church.ca or at 1-800-268-3781 ext. 6156.

Sincerely,

Faith

Faith March-MacCuish

Executive Minister

 

                                             _______________________

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

 

Regional Communication

August 16, 2021

Dear members of Regional Council 15 (Nova Scotia):

As things begin to open up, we also want our churches to be able to open up more fully and be able to have some form of normalcy, while at the same time paying close attention to the world around us and doing our due diligence to keep ourselves and those who are vulnerable safe. Nova Scotia is currently at Phase 4 of the reopening.

On July 21, 2021, Dr. Strang updated the Guidelines for Faith Gatherings for Nova Scotia.  Please note that the mask requirements have not changed.  Masks at this point are still a requirement for indoor public spaces. I have been asked some question about whether it is permissible to remove your masks while in church? As of right now that is not permitted.

Please see the link to the updated guidelines:

https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/docs/Faith-based-gatherings-guidelines.pdf

Singing:

If you decide to have congregational singing, please remember:

Faith-based activities, rituals and practices should be reviewed to determine if they increase the risk of spreading COVID-19, with a focus on those that increase the risk of COVID-19 through contact (touching surfaces) or droplet transmission (sneezing, coughing, singing). Consider discontinuing or altering practices or activities that increase risk.  Masks must be worn by the congregation. Those leading the singing and those presiding at worship may remove their masks when singing and leading.  They must still be distanced from the congregation, and one another, (if not in the same bubble) and must return to using masks when not speaking/singing.

Please see the following link to help you with your decision about singing.

https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/docs/Events-theatres-and-venues-COVID-19-prevention-guidelines.pdf

https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/docs/COVID-19-Guidance-for-Vocalists-and-Instrumentalists.pdf

For Faith-Based Gatherings, continue to:

  • Maintain physical distancing between all individuals including congregants, ushers, greeters, officiant, etc. (people from the same household or pre-determined close social group do not have to keep physical distance).
  • Adjust seating arrangements to allow physical distancing.
  • Traditional greetings, such as handshakes and hugs, should be avoided.
  • Ceremonial traditions that involve sharing of items or close contact should be altered to maintain a 2 metre/6 foot separation.
  • Instructional settings for children (e.g. Sunday school) should follow the applicable guidelines for day camps. Please see the guidelines sent out by Catherine Stuart.
  • Baptism – Separate Bowls of water for each Baptism. Have the parents hold the child, use a shell for pouring water, sanitize your hands before baptism, etc.
  • Communion – Individual packaged communion elements.
  • Provide hand sanitizer at the entry and throughout the facility.
  • Perform hand hygiene before and after handling items that might be shared.

Food:

Providing food and beverages after faith-based activities or events can occur if physical distancing and good hand hygiene practices are followed. No self-serve areas. Designated individuals to serve food and beverages is recommended, while maintaining physical distancing and wearing non-medical masks. Food and beverages should not be shared.

Small Group Instruction/Meetings:

Small group, instructional settings, meetings for adults (e.g., bible study) must follow physical distancing, must remain masked. If there is food, you must follow the guidelines above.

Gathering Limits:

  • Faith gatherings that are run by a business or organization – 50% of the venue’s capacity: up to 150 people indoors and up to 250 people outdoors with social distancing and masks
  • Wedding ceremonies and funerals (including receptions and visitation) hosted by a business or organization – 50% of the venue’s capacity up to 150 people indoors, and
  • Wedding ceremonies and funerals (including receptions and visitation) that are not hosted by a business or organization need to follow the informal social gathering limit for household members (the people you live with) and close social contacts, plus the person conducting the ceremony.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to be in touch at fmaccuish@united-church.ca or at 1-800-268-3781 ext. 6156.

Sincerely,

Faith

Faith March-MacCuish

Executive Minister

 

                                             _______________________

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