Ontario is moving the entire province to a “shutdown zone.” It is in effect for a minimum of 4 weeks and begins Saturday, April 3 at 12:01am. The colour-coded framework is not applicable during this shutdown period.
This is for all regions. Even if your area is currently green, you’re moving directly to shutdown – no passing through orange or yellow. You can collect a one-time payment of $400 per child if you’re a parent of school-aged children and can “expect money to begin flowing on April 26.”
But what does this mean for churches?
First we need to get our terms right. Even though the media may call it lockdown, and the government may use this term on some of its websites, the applicable regulation doesn’t use that term. The regulation uses either “shutdown” or “grey” zones.
Second, it means you need to be familiar with the rules in Regulation 82/20. Some parts of this regulation apply to “shutdown” zones and some parts apply to “grey” zones, so make sure you read the right parts.
Third, for shutdown zones there were some important changes to religious gathering rules made as of March 29:
- Indoor religious services, rites and ceremonies can be held at 15% of room capacity
- Outdoor religious services, rites and ceremonies can be held with an unlimited number of participants so long as attendees are able to comply with public health guidance on physical distancing
- The section governing drive-in services has been revoked. Presumably, drive-in services would be encompassed by the allowance for outdoor religious services (the government info page notes that “drive-in services, rite or ceremonies permitted, subject to certain conditions” – however, regulation 82/20 only refers to “drive-in” in the context of museums and entertainment venues)
Members looking to chat with other church and ministry leaders about challenges and opportunities during times of shutdown can join our online discussions in The Green!
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.