Date: July 17, 2020
To: Parishes, priests and deacons
From: Fr. Dan Van Delst
Re: Update on restrictions with move to Stage 3

Stage 3 of the provincial regulations began for the Archdiocese of Ottawa-Cornwall on July 17, 2020. It brings a further easing of restrictions.

Religious Services

There is no change in the restrictions for religious services. They continue to have a maximum limit of 30% of the capacity of the building providing you can maintain the 2m physical distancing.

This means, in real numbers, most of our parish are looking at around 15% capacity (the Cathedral, for example, at maximum capacity with physical distancing seats around 110 people which is much less than 30% capacity).

Face masks are mandatory during the entire time people are in the enclosed public space, not just when walking or moving about (except according to the exemptions that have been defined). Once inside, masks stay on except for the reception of Holy Communion when they can be lowered or removed to receive the Blessed Sacrament.

Outdoor Gatherings

The maximum group size for an outdoor event has been increased to 100 people provided that the required COVID-19 preventative measures are followed.

Among the requirements is the screening of those who join the gathering and that physical distancing be observed except with people who are part of the same household or social circle.

Parish Office

The parish office can be opened to the public provided that the required COVID-19 preventative measures are followed.

Given below are some key preventative measure. A full description is available at ➤ ON Health – Key Preventative Measures

Staff should not be exposed to people known to be suffering from a pandemic contagion and are to be screened before entering the office. They should take their temperature at home and if it is above 37.5 C (99.5F), they should remain at home.

Staff and clergy who are suffering from any diagnosed or suspected pandemic contagion are not to enter the office and should consult the Public Health Ontario website or their physician.

A notice at the entrance to the office should be posted for visitors which includes the following directives:

  • If you feel sick or your temperature is elevated, or you are experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19, have travelled outside Canada in the last 14 days, have someone you are in close contact with who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days, or are in close contact with a person who is sick with a new respiratory symptoms or who recently traveled outside Canada, then you are asked to refrain from entering the office.
  • Be sure to maintain a physical two-metre (six-foot) distance at all times; stand and sit only in the designated places.
  • Avoid touching your face or other persons.

It is encouraged that the telephone or email be used to conduct business as much as possible and that appointments be made for office visits. Face masks are mandatory for staff and visitors in publicly enclosed spaces.

The number of visitors (or household groups) at one time should be limited according to the size of the room. Others should wait outside. Hand sanitizer should be made available to visitors at the entrance. Physical distancing is to be observed.

All office washrooms are to be limited to office staff only and not available to the public visiting the offices.

Bottles of hand sanitizer should be left upon each working desk and counter. Where possible, at each desk or counter where there is to be interaction between staff and office visitors, a plastic screen (or a table to put more space between the employee and the visitor to maintain physical distancing) should be erected so as to negate the potential of the spread of airborne viral or bacterial contagion. Facilities such as lunchrooms or break rooms should be divided so as to allow for two-metre (six-foot) distances between chairs, etc.

If according to the parish, a staff person can productively work from home, such arrangements should be made.

Parish Hall/Meetings

Meetings of parish committees and groups may be held in public provided that the required COVID-19 preventative measures are followed.

The room should be arranged to ensure a minimum of two meters/six feet between people. The allowable number of people is determined by the size of the space but currently is not to go over the limit of 50 people. The parish when hosting an event (or when renting to third party) are subject to indoor or outdoor gathering limits and ensuring physical distancing can be maintained. People at their place of work, including performers and crews, do not count towards gathering limits.

Among the preventative measures to be followed are:

  • appropriate signage at the entrance
  • that face masks are mandatory in the public enclosed space
  • the screening of those who seek to enter
  • that hand sanitizer be available at the entrance
  • that physical distancing be observed
  • the same restrictions be observed regarding singing as for the church
  • washrooms are restricted in their use as they are for the church and no more than one person (or  household) at a time should use the washroom
  • that washroom(s) be disinfected regularly (for example every 0.5 hr when it is being used)
  • that the hall or meeting space be disinfected between each use

If food is to be served, then consult the following for the required preventative measures: ➤ Ontario – Food Health & Safety

The following high-risk activities are not yet allowed:

  • Buffet-style food services (including beverages)
  • Overnight stays at camps for children
  • Private karaoke rooms
  • Prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports