Church restrictions ‘fail pub test’ in Victoria

The bishops of Victoria say the state’s COVID-19 restrictions on places of worship fail the ‘pub test’ (Melbourne Catholic)

Victoria’s bishops have written an open letter to Premier Daniel Andrews raising concerns of unfairness in COVID-19 restrictions to people of faith. Source: Melbourne Catholic.

The letter, released on Friday, calls for fairness and parity between places of worship and other sectors like hospitality. It is signed by Melbourne Archbishop Peter A Comensoli, Ballarat Bishop Paul Bird CSsR, Sandhurst Bishop Shane Mackinlay and Sale Diocese’s delegate Fr Peter Slater.

Yesterday, Mr Andrews announced a revised roadmap for metropolitan Melbourne, easing some restrictions from today across a range of industries. Under the new plan, five people plus a religious minister can attend outdoor religious ceremonies, but places of worship will remain closed.

Regional Victoria is already a step ahead of metropolitan Melbourne while restaurants and cafes can have up to 50 people seated outdoors, only 10 people are allowed to meet for an outdoor religious gathering.

The bishops say they have worked cooperatively with members of the Victorian Government and health authorities, but a pressing need remains to address the unfairness of the disparity in numbers.

“In the most simple of measures, the current restrictions in regional Victoria literally fail the ‘pub test’: if people of faith can gather in a restaurant or bar catering for a particular number of patrons (and remove their face covering), they ought to be able to put on their mask, cross the road and worship in their faith community with the same numbers, provided equivalent COVID-­safe practices are in place,” the bishops write.

“Catholic communities have shown their commitment to acting responsibly and cooperatively throughout the pandemic, and they will be greatly encouraged in this if they can see that people of faith are being given the same consideration as other sectors of the community.”

FULL STORY

An Open Letter to the Premier from the Catholic Bishops of Victoria (Melbourne Catholic)

Coronavirus (COVID-19) reopening roadmap: Metropolitan Melbourne (Victorian Government)

Coronavirus (COVID-19) reopening roadmap: Regional Victoria RELATED COVERAGE (Victorian Government)

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Fr Marcus Goulding: Premier ‘I’ for Inconsistent (Catholic Weekly)

Five faith leaders want bigger gathering limits, St Mary’s priest says basilica could hold 120 people (Geelong Advertiser

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