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Places of Worship Guidelines

For general workplace guidelines, please refer to COVID-19 Workplace Information. All businesses operating in Saskatchewan must be in compliance with these guidelines. The information below provides specific guidelines for places of worship.

The Government of Saskatchewan, in consultation with leaders from faith communities in the province, developed guidelines for places of worship to resume service. These guidelines apply to indoor and outdoor gatherings.

These guidelines are intended to support a return to in-person services for places of worship. The guidelines are intended to allow places of worship that choose to return to service to do so safely and guard against the transmission of COVID-19.

Places of worship should only return to service once they are able to safely implement the controls identified in these guidelines.

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1. Drive-In or Remote Worship Guidelines

  • When possible, it's recommended that services are delivered online (via Zoom, YouTube, etc.).
  • They may also be delivered as drive-in services, but individuals are encouraged to remain in their vehicles as much as possible. Only individuals from the same household may occupy the same vehicle.
  • Drive-in services must be held in designated parking lots or staging areas, and must meet the following conditions:
    • Event organizers must have measures in place to ensure people maintain two metres of separation if they need to leave their vehicles. However, attendees should be encouraged to remain in their vehicles.
    • Vehicles must be separated by a minimum of two metres.
    • Access to washroom facilities must be limited. Where washroom access is provided, frequent cleaning and disinfection must take place throughout the event.
    • People leaving their vehicles to use the washrooms must maintain a minimum of two metres of separation from others at all times.
    • No food or beverage service is allowed.
    • All other services must be suspended, including picnic and play areas.
    • Anyone who is feeling sick or symptomatic must remain at home.
    • Organizers must provide proposals for any events to local public health officials, as well as be available to answer any questions, to ensure the event does not pose a risk of spreading COVID-19.
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2. Guidelines for Accommodating Worship

Places of worship may resume services providing physical distancing of two metres can be maintained between each individual household.

  • Delivering services virtually or through remote delivery such as drive-in service is recommended. 
  • Effective 12:01 a.m., April 16, 2021, the total number of people participating in all worship services in Saskatchewan cannot exceed 30 people (not including clergy and staff).
  • These guidelines apply to all worship services, including celebrations of life, weddings and outdoor ceremonies. However, these guidelines do not apply to receptions or non-ceremonial gatherings.
  • Services must be held in their usual location. Concurrent services are permitted in other rooms in the facility, as long as the overall number does not exceed 30 for the entire facility. Graveside services not to exceed 30 people.
  • Seating (or designated worship space) must be arranged so that physical distancing can be observed at all times. Consideration must be given to how people enter and exit pews and other seating areas. A minimum of two metres must be maintained between household groups.
  • No food and beverage may be present or served (food and beverage as part of a faith-based ceremony or ritual are not restricted).
  • To help ensure safety, individuals must be separated by two metres, unless they are part of the same household group.
  • These guidelines do not apply to receptions or non-ceremonial gatherings.
  • Where possible, registration of participants is encouraged to effectively manage the number of individuals attending. Registration should be facilitated to discourage attendees from common-use items such as pens and pencils.
  • Use visual cues to support physical distancing.
  • Implement one-way traffic flow to promote physical distancing (i.e. enter through one door and exit through another).
  • Attendees who are medically vulnerable are strongly encouraged to delay their return to services and continue to participate in services online, where possible.
  • Attendees, employees and volunteers are required to stay home if sick or symptomatic.
  • Places of worship will be required to identify measures by which entry and exit is managed to ensure physical distancing is maintained.
  • Promote physical distancing by marking the directional flow of people through buildings and areas. Mark seating areas and post visual reminders to observe physical distancing.
  • Individuals from the same household may be seated together and should remain in place once they are seated.
  • If multiple gatherings are held on a single day, the start and end times must allow those who attend one gathering to exit safely, avoiding contact with those arriving for the next gathering. Time is needed to clean and disinfect common surfaces between services. They must not be held concurrently.
  • Dismissal of gatherings should be done in a way that supports physical distancing.
  • All ancillary events, such as social events, should be postponed for the immediate future.
  • Where possible, consider managing parking lot assignments to ensure physical distancing is maintained.
  • Everyone in attendance at a place of worship must wear a mask except clergy members or religious leaders who are leading a service or ceremony while speaking from a podium, lectern, platform, stage, desk or other standing or seating area dedicated to speaking.
  • While unmasked and speaking, clergy members and religious leaders should increase their physical distance from others to at least three metres.
  • For the purposes of contact tracing, places of worship are required to collect and maintain a list of people that are present within their facilities for any purposes. Contact details must include date, time, name, address, and phone number or email address.
  • When collecting contact details, avoid the sharing of pens or other common touch instruments unless disinfected between each use.
  • Contact registration lists must be maintained confidentially by the place of worship and destroyed after 30 days.

Non-ceremonial meetings

  • Non-ceremonial meetings are permitted in groups no larger than 30 as long as physical distancing can be maintained.
  • No food or beverage is allowed.
  • No concurrent meetings or meetings taking place at the same time as worship services.
  • Allow enough time for entry and exit, as well as cleaning and disinfection.
  • Seating must be arranged so that two metres of physical distancing can be maintained between non-household members.
  • Attendees to remain seated except for entering and exiting, as well as using the washroom.
  • If tables are being used, there must not be more than four per table.
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3. Guidelines for Hygiene and Cleaning

As part of the return to service, places of worship will be required to enhance cleaning and disinfection practices.

  • Review cleaning and disinfection practices.
  • Increase cleaning and disinfection of commonly contacted areas, including seating areas, doorknobs, handles, ceremonial objects, elevator buttons, railings and light switches.
  • Encourage everyone to practise proper hand hygiene and coughing/sneezing etiquette, including:
    • Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    • Using hand sanitizer when hands are not visibly dirty and handwashing isn't available.
    • Using hand sanitizer approved by Health Canada (DIN and NPN number).
    • Avoiding touching your face, mouth, nose and eyes.
  • Manage access to washrooms in a way to promote physical distancing and increase cleaning and disinfection. Ensure washrooms are always well stocked with liquid soap and paper towels, and that warm running water is available.
  • Garbage bins should be emptied frequently.
  • Place hand sanitizer approved by Health Canada (DIN or NPN number) in dispensers or provide handwashing stations near doors and other high-traffic areas.
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4. Guidelines for Higher-Risk Activities

  • All physical contact, such as handshaking or passing objects between individuals, is not permitted. Ushers, greeters or other guest services must maintain physical distancing and avoid physical contact with worshippers.
  • Microphones cannot be shared between individuals due to the difficulty of cleaning and disinfecting these devices. Minimize the number of attendees providing readings or performing other activities that would require the use of a microphone.
  • While choirs and singing by congregation members are permitted in places of worship, caution is advised as singing is a high-risk activity. Refer to the Performing Arts Guidelines for guidance on choirs/group vocals, including masking and physical distancing requirements.
  • Singers and performers, including singing members of congregation, must wear a face covering or mask that covers the nose and mouth (i.e. non-medical masks). Please refer to the Public Health Order related to Face Coverings for masking requirements.
  • A two-metre separation is required between musicians, measured from either the person or the bell-end of an instrument, whichever is greater. Musicians within the same household are not required to maintain physical distance, but must be separated from patrons and performers from outside of their household.
  • All musicians must wear a non-medical mask at all times during the performance, except for musicians playing a woodwind, brass or other instrument operated by breath, but only if they can maintain a distance of three metres from others while playing.
  • Instrument bell covers made of a tightly woven fabric with at least two layers are recommended but not required.
  • Musicians playing instruments other than brass or woodwind (e.g. guitar or percussion players) must maintain two metres of separation or utilize a barrier device (i.e. Plexiglas) if distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Performers must use their own microphones. Instruments, drum sticks/mallets, music stands and other items must not be shared between participants, unless cleaned and disinfected between uses. Items that can't be disinfected (e.g. sheet music) must not be shared, laminated to allow for disinfection, or held for 24 hours before sharing. Hand hygiene must be completed prior to handling common items.
  • When conducting religious rituals, they must be conducted in a way that safeguards the health of congregants.
  • Passing of offering baskets will not be permitted. Alternatives are encouraged, such as online giving options or a depository to accept offerings.
  • Objects that cannot be disinfected between uses should not be distributed. If objects cannot be disinfected, the place of worship must determine the means by which they can be discarded after use to prevent contamination, such as paper bulletins or other single-use materials.
  • Books and other common-use items should be removed from use, if possible. Projecting materials or distribution of single-use materials can be considered. Books or items that can't be disinfected should be removed and held for 24 hours before being brought back into use.
  • Food and beverage service must be suspended at this time.

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