An Ontario MPP has provided CCCC with a statement from the Premier’s Office in response to our questions.
Further, all organized public events of over fifty people are also prohibited, including parades and events and communal services within places of worship. These orders were approved by the Lieutenant Governor in Council and will remain in place until March 31, 2020, at which point they will be reassessed and considered for extension, unless this order is terminated earlier.Statement received by CCCC March 26, 2020
This reaffirms part of the statement that was made on March 17, 2020 when Ontario declared a state of emergency.
What guidance can we glean from this re-affirmation?
In response to our letter, several individual MPPs suggested that clergy should still be free to work privately in a church office or study, as long as they are alone or with minimal other staff onsite. The same would apply to live-streaming or recording a worship service from the sanctuary (i.e. this would be acceptable as long as only a few people are involved).
Anyone in the church facility should also be following guidelines for handwashing and safe physical distancing. Since the premier is urging everyone to remain home unless absolutely necessary, in-person counselling sessions or other activities (like home visits from a pastor) would be strongly discouraged. Phone or internet contact is advised instead.
Additionally, government MPPs recommend that churches and charities respect the guidance of the Chief Medical Officer, and check with local authorities if they still have questions. For specific inquiries about how the closures and emergency measures apply to your situation in Ontario, you may call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659. In the City of Toronto, you may phone 311.
Church and charity leaders are invited to share how they are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic within their organization in our online community forum The Green: COVID-19 Response Room.
Posted March 26, 2020 @ 2:20pm
Noteworthy is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Every organization’s circumstances are unique. Before acting on the basis of information contained in this blog, readers should consult with a qualified lawyer for advice specific to their situation.