Josephine Hall
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Hello and welcome to COVID Communiqué 28. To be blunt, there’s no denying how serious the state of the pandemic is. The Ontario House of Bishops met yesterday and, in a nutshell, concluded there are no changes to our Amber status — yet. If the caseload spikes to the 6,500 per day the province’s experts predicted last week, that may change, but for now, hold the line. 

That said, this is clearly not the time to relax safety measures in any way. We’ve had some seriously wintry weather after last week’s lovely respite: it’s hard, but we must be gentle yet firm in keeping parishioners from chatting indoors after the liturgy. If you haven’t introduced virtual coffee hours or other ways for people to connect, now would be the time — people are missing their church family connections so badly. Is there something you could do to bring parishioners together for Advent via Zoom? If you have good ideas for online Advent events, please send them to  [email protected] so we can share them with our diocese. 

A few notes on singing, which is such an integral part of Advent and Christmas. As we all know, evidence and recommendations on COVID-19 safety evolve constantly. Singing is a high-risk activity (singers striving to be heard project lots of droplets and aerosols — then breathe deeply, potentially pulling both deep into their lungs). New evidence indicates that singers, to be safe, should be a minimum of four metres from others (double the normal distance). Take a few minutes to assess the situation in your church: is your singer four metres from the next nearest person? This is a particular concern for those churches that feel they have enough room for a second singer and might have been considering applying for approval to add one — can you be sure no one is within four metres? 

Please also remember (as we mentioned in last week’s Communiqué), public health experts are now recommending three-layer masks, an update that’s particularly important for singers. The gold standard for cloth masks includes a layer of non-woven polypropylene, but Canada’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Theresa Tam, has said that non-woven fusible interfacing is a good option for a third layer in them. 

Rest assured we are keeping a close eye on the growing levels of cases and will keep everyone informed of any changes to Amber protocols. If you have any questions about any aspect of COVID, please don’t hesitate to send a message to [email protected] 

COVID Communiqué is produced by our senior staff:
Shane Parker, Bishop
Beth Bretzlaff, Dean
Linda Hill, Executive Archdeacon
Sanjay Grover, Director of Financial Ministry
Peter John Hobbs, Director of Community Ministries
Jane Scanlon, Director of Stewardship Development
Carol Sinclair, Director of Human Resources