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Latest Update: Wednesday, September 1, 2021

The Ontario government has announced that starting September 22, 2021 people will need to be fully vaccinated (2 doses plus 14 days) and provide proof of vaccination along with photo ID to access certain public settings and facilities. A digital verification app will follow on October 22, 2021. Churches are not currently on the list.

Although the enhanced certificate program covers various indoor settings, other ones such as churches or settings where there are extended stays such as hair salons were left out of the program. When asked about a number of sectors that were left out of the vaccination certificate program, Dr. Kieran Moore (Ontario’s chief medical officer of health) said the decision was based on current data.

“The venues we have chosen are responsive to the risk we have found in Ontario. If the risk increases in other venues, we can add and implement additional measures to protect Ontarians,” he said. (For the full article see Global News website: https://globalnews.ca/news/8158345/covid-ontario-vaccine-certificates-passport-restaurants-gyms-clubs/)

For more details please see the Ontario Government’s current vaccine certificate program plan (PDF | 10 pgs)

See our update on Vaccination Policies for Churches from June 30, 2021 for guidance on vaccination concerns when returning to in-person gathering.

Previously the Ontario Government announced that it would ease restrictions for weddings, funerals and religious services across the province. These changes were enacted on Friday, July 16th and are still in effect.

For weddings, funerals and other religious services, rites or ceremonies:

  • all people attending the gathering must comply with pubic health guidance on physical distancing
  • people must wear masks or face coverings when
    • they are in an indoor area at a business or facility that is open to the public, with limited exceptions
    • they are within 2 metres of another person who is not part of their household, with limited exceptions
  • indoor and outdoor capacity limited to permit physical distancing of 2 metres

Receptions are permitted indoors up to 25 people unless held at a meeting or event space, or a restaurant or other food or drink establishment.

Outdoor receptions permitted up to 100 people unless held at a meeting or event space or a restaurant or other food or drink establishment.

For more information, please refer to the Ontario Government’s COVID 19 website.

Beyond the letter of the law, as people of faith, we are called to uphold the whole community and contribute wherever we can to well-being and safety. After such a long time of being apart, we understand the desire to quickly come together for worship.  Although the provincial government has eased restrictions, it is important for communities of faith to assess for themselves whether they are able to offer in-person worship safely, and have protocols in place to maintain capacity limits. For all church employees and volunteers, we continue to strongly encourage you to work remotely from home unless it is essential to be on site.

This is an encouraging development in what has been a long period of lockdown — and needing to be creative in how we worship. We are mindful of all the ways communities of faith have continued to be the church, even while not being able to gather.

We continue to hold all of you in our prayers.

Shining Waters Regional Council Staff