Last Friday, 23 October, saw a slight easing in the COVID-19-related restrictions applicable within New South Wales for places of public worship (i.e. our church buildings).
While the presence of COVID-19 in our community remains a threat to the health and safety of the Australian and NSW communities, the NSW Government has decided that it is now appropriate to permit some easing of the regulations under the current Public Health Order. For many church buildings, the announced easings will have little if any impact, but they are a positive sign that the COVID-19 situation is easing. We hope and pray that the situation continues to improve and further easings of restrictions become possible in the not too distant future.
In welcoming the easing of restrictions, we remain vigilant and disciplined in observing our moral and legal obligation towards our brothers and sisters and ensure we do all that we must to restrict the further spread of COVID-19. We look forward to the future opportunity to gather more freely as a worshipping community to celebrate our liturgical life in all its fullness.
I take the opportunity to thank you for your cooperation during these difficult times and look forward to celebrating with you once more.
Fr Andrew Doohan
Easing Taking Effect 23 October
Amendments to the current Public Health Order have been gazetted to give effect to the NSW Government announcement. The limit on the number of persons who can be present in the Cathedral is now calculated as the lesser of allowing 4 square metres per person within the building, or 300 persons.
The size of the Cathedral building means that we are able to have up to 110 persons, which limit applies to all Masses and other liturgical celebrations except for funerals. The limit of 110 persons also applies to Cathedral’s availability for private prayer.
The limit for funerals remains fixed at 100 persons.
Opening Hours of the Cathedral
The Cathedral will continue to be open from approximately 8am until approximately 5pm on Mondays through Fridays. You are welcome to attend the Cathedral during these hours for private prayer or a time of silence.
On weekends, the Cathedral will be open from the beginning of the first liturgical celebration until after the last celebration is concluded. We apologise for any inconvenience this might cause but feel this is the most appropriate course of action in the current circumstances.
Although the number of persons who can be in the Cathedral has increased, there is still a requirement for the collection of contact details for those who attend any liturgical celebration in the Cathedral (e.g. Mass, Weddings, Funerals, Baptisms, etc.). If a ‘discrete’ group attends, e.g. a family, a husband and wife, people from the same household, etc., only one (adult) member of the group is required to provide their contact details. The contact details that are required are defined as a) name, b) phone number or email address, and c) the time of arrival.
We will provide a Contact Form at the door to permit this, and we have also provided an electronic option via the ServiceNSW QR Code or the Signin.com.au QR Code. These QR Codes are accessible via the posters displayed at the entraces.
The requirements regarding cleaning, observing physical distancing, refraining from communal singing, etc. remain in place for the time being, as does the requirement to refrain from physical acts of devotion that involve touching or kissing icons or statues.
Because of the need to ensure health and safety, the previously advised adaptations to the celebration of Masses and other liturgical celebrations will continue to be observed.
To manage the entrance to and exit from the Cathedral, only one door will be used at any one time for the foreseeable future. The use of one door will permit the management of numbers within the Cathedral for Mass and other liturgical celebrations.
On weekdays, this will be the side entrance on the side nearest the Chancery building. On weekends, the main doors will be used to cater for the larger number of people attending.
Requirements for Attending Mass
There is no need to register in advance to attend Mass. If you wish to return to Mass, you are at liberty to do so, though there will still be the need to ensure that no more than 110 persons are at any particular Mass.
We ask those who are particularly at risk – the elderly, those with compromised health, those who are sick – to refrain from returning to Mass for the sake of their own health. The dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass given by the Bishop remains in place in these circumstances.