Josephine Hall
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Hello and welcome to COVID Communiqué 35. All of us are sobered by the new coronavirus modelling released yesterday by the Government of Ontario. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic continues to deepen, and government, civic, and church leaders are focused on ways to keep people safe. We need to do everything we can to address the alarming spread of the virus in our communities.

In light of the Ontario Government’s new restrictions, which go into effect at 12:01 am on Thursday, January 14th, we are making two modifications to our Red Stage protocols for livestreaming or recording services in churches:

1) Participation is now limited to a maximum of five people and only to those people who are necessary for the conduct (including livestreaming or recording) of the service; and
2) Everyone present must wear a mask at all times.
These two modifications will go into effect immediately, and apply to parishes in Ontario and Quebec.

We strongly affirm the Ontario and Quebec governments’ emphasis on staying at home during this state of emergency. Accordingly, we are asking clergy and wardens to discuss the possibility of livestreaming (or recording) services from homes instead of churches. As always, the right decision is the one that works best for you in your parish.

Many of you have asked whether it is safe to have the imposition of ashes during the Ash Wednesday liturgy on February 17th. Although it is permissible using essentially the same procedures as administering bread at communion, it may be helpful to remember the imposition of ashes is not a sacrament and therefore is not an essential part of the liturgy (it is not part of the BCP rite, and is optional in the BAS). What matters is preparing as a community for a meaningful Lent, and if it seems wise to simplify Ash Wednesday services this year, feel free to omit it. While we may be out of the state of emergency by then, we will continue to watch for changes in government restrictions at that point and be prepared to comply.

Finally, as we have promised, the guidelines for virtual vestry meetings will be in next week’s Communiqué. As well, you might want to “save the date” of Thursday, January 28th for a Vestry-in-the-Time-of-COVID Workshop on Zoom. For more details, click here:

If you have any questions on COVID-19 developments, modifications to Red Stage protocols, vestry, or anything else, please be in touch at [email protected]