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As of Monday, March 15, the Ontario government eased some restrictions on places of worship in the Grey Zone of Stage 1 (which currently includes Thunder Bay District, Sudbury & District, Peel, Toronto, and Lambton).

Churches in the Grey Zone are now allowed to gather at 15% capacity for indoor “religious services, rites or ceremonies.” Outdoor services can have up to 50. The new figures also apply to weddings and funerals. This replaces the previous cap of ten people for grey zones.

Capacity limits are now common under reopening regulations. Businesses allowed to open in the Grey Zone are also subject to caps, such as grocery stores at 50% and big box stores at 25%.

Churches in Red, Green, Yellow and Orange zones continue to be limited to 30% capacity indoors, or 100 people outdoors.

You can check the status of your region and the applicable restrictions here.

This is a welcome announcement that comes after consultation with faith leaders. Since we have advocated on behalf of churches across the country, and have also encouraged our members to communicate with government and health officials, we are pleased to see the positive results of this kind of dialogue.

To that end, we encourage you to continue engaging with your own elected representative to ensure churches and faith-based organizations are part of the discussion. CCCC CEO John Pellowe shares a great example in his recent blog post, Challenging Authorities: Using Reason to Persuade.

We are thankful for the efforts of those involved, especially as we recognize the importance of in-person worship and care. As Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, expressed in a recent statement, “faith communities continue to be on the front line of prayer, care and outreach.”

If you have questions on the revised rules, want to share how your ministry may be affected and hear from others, we invite members to join our discussion on 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.

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