Time to allow indoor services in regional churches

Churches and places of worship in Ripon and across regional Victoria must be allowed to recommence indoor services with COVID-safe plans, says Member for Ripon Louise Staley.

Religious organisations have been prohibited from holding indoor ceremonies with worshippers for most of the period since the COVID-19 pandemic started in March. Now with case numbers at zero for nearly all of regional Victoria, it is time to allow indoor religious services for worshippers to recommence.

“Right across Ripon, religion is a hugely important aspect of many people’s lives,” Ms Staley said.

“As most of regional Victoria has been COVID-19 free for many weeks now, it is time to allow people of faith to attend indoor services at their local church.”

“I’ve been contacted by both individuals and leaders of faith communities. They are all asking when they will be able to come together indoors to worship and celebrate their beliefs,” Ms Staley said.

Ms Staley said it made little sense for hospitality venues to accommodate customers indoors with density limits but not allow the same for religious gatherings.

“Church leaders have assured me they are ready to hold ceremonies with their communities in attendance again, in a COVID-safe way.”

“If we can support local pubs, cafes, and restaurants by allowing them to have people indoors with density limits of 1 person per 4 square metres, why can’t we allow religious gatherings to do the same under the same rules?”

“This is a time when many people are starting to lose hope. Reconnecting with their faith communities will allow people to support each other and rekindle that hope. It’s time to let faith communities welcome people into their churches safely.”