Building use under Level 2

We have now entered the most dangerous stage of the pandemic. We think we are safe. We dodged the bullet. Life can go back to normal. Even the government says so as we move into Level 2. No need to stockpile enough loo paper to get us through 2025. Raising the number who can gather to 100 has only strengthened this illusion.

But read the fine print. We still need to maintain physical distance. Wash our hands. Keep a diary of where we have been for contact tracing purposes. It is recommended we wear a mask when using public transportation or in any public situation where maintaining physical distance is challenging. Businesses, including churches, have to log via the contact tracing app or on paper forms those who have accessed their facility. Provide hand sanitiser. Businesses need to do deep cleaning whenever facility is used.

I am beginning to get inquiries about when we will open the church again for worshipping in person. Small church groups and renters are asking if they can now meet in the church.

I’m afraid at this time the answer is no, for we do not have the capacity or resources to comply fully with the fine print.

Worship services in the church would be greatly reduced in numbers due to physical distance requirements. We might have to ask you to book that you will be attending the service in advance. Unlike a restaurant or other businesses, we do not have a staff to monitor building use or assure compliance with present requirements.

Due to a significant loss of income the Management Committee has approved a bare bones budget for this year. The cost of cleaning the church after each building use is greater than the income generated through rent. We have a duty of care to maintain a building that is appropriately clean. Even if this was not a government expectation, it is an ethical and moral one. Expecting those using the building will meet these requirements in a consistent manner is unrealistic.

When the government issues notice of going to Level 1 and what will be required, this decision will be reviewed in terms of our ability to comply.


Suspension of services

I am faced with a difficult decision. The government has mandated today that indoor events of more than 100 be cancelled, including weddings, funerals and religious services. Except for Christmas Eve we never exceed that number. But one hundred is not a magic number. I am interpreting this mandate to mean if gatherings are not essential, it would be best to err on the side of caution and cancel them. While I think the precautions we instituted last Sunday were responsible, I would not want one member to become ill because we continued meeting. I would not like to think that because we met we were responsible for introducing the virus into the wider community.

I know some of you will be disappointed or even disagree about the risk, but I am suspending in-person worship beginning this Sunday. We are in the process of planning for online services, which we hope to have up and running very soon. In the meantime, wash your hands, self-isolate if possible, wash your hands, maintain social distance and wash your hands.

Be safe,

Covid-19 Update

Dear members and friends of the Auckland Unitarian Church,

Yesterday (15th March 2020) our Management Committee met to consider how to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. There is much more we don’t know than we do know about how the pandemic will play out in New Zealand. Thanks to what I consider strong leadership from the government to contain the virus, we have had only eight reports of infected individuals as of this morning. There is no indication of a community outbreak at this time. However, that does not mean things could not change rapidly as they have in other countries. Therefore, we should be vigilant and take every precaution not to spread the contagion and to protect our most vulnerable members. Part of that means being aware of government advice and applying it to our situation where appropriate.

Continue reading Covid-19 Update