This page complements the following key policy documents:
- Diocesan Covid Protection Framwork Policy
- Application for a Non-My Covid Pass Occasion
- Risk Assessment
- Government Guidelines for Places of Worship
Click on the button below to access those documents.
frequently asked questions
Naumai, haere mai - Welcome to our Waikato and Taranaki Diocesan Frequently Asked Questions page
Thank you for your patience and kindness in this process. We have lots of very useful and positive feedback. We are working as quickly as we can in relation to the wide range of matters that need considering as the COVID Protection Framework comes into force. The Diocese is a diverse and complex extended family. Views and convictions across our family are inevitably diverse too.
The Bishops of the Church support the direction of our Government, we have considered carefully the Public Health advice that has shaped their decisions and in some circumstances we have taken independent expert advice.
On the whole we believe the Government and their advisors have got the balance right. The COVID Protection Framework is likely to be the basis of the way our community life is shaped for the foreseeable future, so it is important to decide on your local response with reference to the normative vaccine-only within the options that we have outlined.
Therefore, please choose your initial options and plan accordingly. Adjustments and changes are unavoidable going forward.
There are inevitable gaps in our advice and some errors in what was distributed, so it is great to have questions. We are on quite a journey together!!
- Can the exempted provision be the main or only service in a parish?
- Are you saying, this is the norm, follow it and (by the way) you can add another service to provide for undisclosed status?
- If you run both kinds of service how do you staff them?
- Do we have to use the My Vaccine Pass Scan in App?
- Do we need exemptions for Vestry meetings with unvaccinated?
- Vestry members as Office Holders – do they need to be vaccinated?
- Can we list examples of events v examples of gatherings (e.g. Messy Church, Mainly Music …)?
- Can we have a register of services offered so people can know where vaccinated, un-vaccinated, and online services are available?
- Who has to undertake a risk assessment?
- Refusing entry?
- What about Ministry to children?
- What is required in terms of cleaning?
- Can we have clarity on the use of parish buildings by others?
Erratum: re Holy Communion
There is an inconsistency between the advice in the text of the Diocesan Guidelines about Communion in two kinds and the chart at the end. The text is correct. The Chart is not. Regardless of whether you are having a My Vaccine Pass or non-Vaccine Pass service, Communion is to be in one kind only at Orange.
The answer is “Yes”. A non-My Vaccine Pass Service can be the main or only service. It is important to consider that if it is the only service, it will also exclude some people. A My Vaccine Pass service is our starting point. This normative or default position is, on all advice, the safest position. (We have revisited this with Public Health experts regularly.) It therefore has the fewest restrictions.
Are you saying, this is the norm, follow it and (by the way) you can add another service to provide for undisclosed status?
We are not saying anything other than what the Guidelines say. Namely, My Vaccine Pass services are the normative or default position for the reasons given above. Non My Vaccine Services can be held as a one-off or regularly with exemption. Yes, there is a judgement call in that: and it is that My Vaccine Pass services are the safest option for participants. However, Non Vaccine Pass services are permitted by Government and we have provided a clear pathway for this exception for our Communities.
We can host both types of services in one day in the same building. This link to the guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting will be helpful as the preparation of the site is important. https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-information-specific-audiences/covid-19-general-cleaning-and-disinfection-advice.
The question of whether the same people could do both services wasn’t covered in our government briefing on Tuesday, 30 November. However, in Waikato Taranaki if we are holding both types of services, we will likely be using the same people. Those people involved in both will all be double vaccinated as they will be required to be to work at the My Vaccine Pass service, so a higher requirement than for a non-vaccinated service.
It is logical that these individuals will need to be particularly careful about their personal hygiene, thorough hand washing, use of sanitiser etc. It would be a sensible action to use a different mask (disposable) for different services. Touching hard surfaces and then touching your face is a really common human behaviour.
Any non My Vaccine Pass gathering requires the exemption application. A meeting is a gathering. This application only needs to be done once and can be an application for a number of different groups. The application form will be updated to reflect this. The steps needed are simple and reflect best practice in terms of such meetings. Requirements will provide the necessary documentation for the Diocese to be able to work with Health authorities in the case of an outbreak.
Not necessarily, but a risk assessment needs to be carried out for all leaders and office holders who are not vaccinated. This risk assessment needs to be conducted in conversation with the individual and the resulting risk assessment sheet communicated to your archdeacon. We will review these quickly and advise.
This is a great question and one we put in some detail to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet advisor we link too. The definition in the Government Guidelines—and what we have offered in our Diocesan Guidelines—is as clear as we can get. In essence, an event is defined in terms of maximum numbers and ticketed entry. Certainly, entry for financial return is an event. Until we are advised differently, we would regard Messy Church and Mainly Music as gatherings.
More significantly, such programmes work with Children. Our Children are our precious taonga and we need to take all appropriate steps to protect them. Please use the risk assessment tool to determine how you should respond to this priority.
A children’s ministry occasion is a gathering and by definition is a non-Vaccine Pass gathering. This is because children under the age of 12 cannot be vaccinated. Therefore, all children’s ministry gatherings require an exemption application. Again, if this is a regular gathering of children, a single exemption application for a recurring event is required. One-off events also need an exemption application submitted. Any adult involved in ministry to children must be vaccinated.
Risk assessments should be undertaken by the Vestry or duly appointed representatives of the Vestry (or equivalent body). They should be completed with direct reference to the person/people concerned. It can be helpful to test the risk assessment results with a couple of people. This helps you to see a range of views. Where there is confusion about how something is interpreted, we urge you to declare your interpretation so that everyone understands how the determination was made.
Once you have completed your assessment, please submit it to your archdeacon. Your submissions will help us as we benchmark some roles. The assessments will be reviewed as soon as possible and you will be advised appropriately.
The paragraph “we do not expect or require our churches to police vaccine passes or for people such as greeters welcomers to refuse entry” seems to contradict the requirement that Passes have to be scanned or sighted in a My Vaccine Pass gathering?”
Yes, that could be clearer in our Guidance. Passes do need sighting. The point made by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Policy advisors was they do not expect us to confront or refuse entry (“police” in the enforcement sense of that - you will comply or we will strong arm you out!) but rather to work with the person (hence the other advice about how to try to have a supportive discussion). The policy advisors’ response to this question was that we should approach the situation with compassion: “Why is this person angry or resistant or uncooperative? What has happened in their lives. Can we have a conversation.”
In summary, please remember that you are not asked to ‘police’ in the sense of enforcing the law. All interactions are to be motivated by compassion and seek to de-escalate any anxiety. If you do not feel safe, please alert the person concerned to your discomfort, remove yourself from the situation, and if necessary, contact the NZ Police.
Our Children are our precious taonga and we need to take all appropriate steps to protect them. Gatherings with children may occur With My Vaccine Pass or Without.
For a vaccine pass gathering including children, we strongly urge you to complete a risk assessment to ensure you are doing all you can to protect children. You may submit this to your archdeacon (and or the Bishop’s Office). If all of your gatherings are My Covid Pass gatherings, then you do not need to seek an exemption.
For any gathering Without My Vaccine Passes you are required to complete a thorough risk assessment and submit an application for exemption to the Bishop’s Office. Where such gatherings include children you should pay particular attention to their protection, as well as other vulnerable groups.
At every traffic light state, gatherings may take place With or Without My Vaccine Passes subject to government restrictions. Currently, a gathering With My Vaccine Passes has no limits at Green and Orange and a limit of one hundred with one metre distancing at Red. Gatherings Without My Vaccine passes must observe social distancing and are limited to one hundred at Green, fifty at Orange, and twenty-five at Red.
With My Vaccine Pass Events follow the same pattern as gatherings. Events Without My Vaccine Passes cannot take place at Orange or Red. Without My Vaccine Pass Events can take place at Green, subject to social distancing and a limit of one hundred attendees. Exemptions for events Without My Vaccine Passes can only be considered at Green.
Ultimately, we are seeking to keep our children and all in our communities as safe as possible, knowing that the vaccine is in the process of approval for children age five to eleven years and those under five are unable to receive a vaccination at this time.