Greetings to you on the rainy (at least where I am) fall day. I have just had the privilege of participating in a call with Faith Leaders with Minister Dix and Dr. Henry. We are indeed blessed by their calm and steady leadership. People all around the province are offering prayers of support for them and their leadership through these past many months. I continue to be impressed and humbled with their recognition of the unique role that Faith Communities play in supporting people through this pandemic.
The purpose of today’s call was to clarify the new restrictions in the Northern Health Region, which restricts in person gathering for worship (including funerals, weddings and baptisms) until November 20. Hopefully, this ‘circuit breaker’ response will mean that in-person worship will be possible for the Season of Advent. It is clear that there is tremendous strain on the health care system and we must all do our part to stop transmission of this virus.
Additionally, for the purposes of offering online worship, limiting leadership to essential personnel is encouraged with no more than 10-12 present. We further recommend that all meetings go online, even though they are technically allowed by the health order, but if you do choose to meet in person, ensure that all participants are double vaccinated.
For those of us not in the Northern Health Region, it is important to be extra vigilant with our layers of protection, and to continue to follow public health guidelines to protect against the spread of this virus. Dr. Henry highlighted the greater risk of transmission presented by the Delta variant, recognizing that stricter measures may be needed to stop the spread. She continues to call on the church to encourage and support people to be vaccinated and encourages caution. It was also noted that there have been numerous cases of virus transmission in faith communities, especially connected with special events such as weddings and funerals. I know that we are all wishing for this pandemic to be over, and finding ourselves dealing with greater restrictions is discouraging, but I encourage us to follow both the letter and spirit of the health orders.
The United Church of Canada’s Office of Vocation has recently communicated the expectation that all ministry personnel be vaccinated; further information is available here.
I want to express my gratefulness for your leadership. These have been challenging times, and have called for resilience and innovation, and you have responded with skill and grace. Pacific Mountain Region, and the whole church, is blessed by you.
Northern Health Region of BC
The following orders began midnight Thursday October 14, 2021 for the Northern Health region (with the exception of the following Local Health Areas west of Gitwangak: Terrace, Kitimat, Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert, Stikine, Telegraph Creek, Snow Country and Nisga’a):
- Worship services: no in-person group services, virtual services are required
- Personal gatherings, both indoor and outdoor, are restricted to fully vaccinated people, including at private residences and vacation accommodation
- Indoor gathering: up to 5 people are permitted
- Outdoor gathering: up to 25 people are permitted
- All indoor and outdoor organized events require a safety plan and for attendees to wear a mask and present their BC Vaccine Card showing they are fully vaccinated
- Indoor event: up to 50 people are permitted
- Outdoor event: up to 100 people are permitted
- Fast-food restaurants and unlicensed cafés without table service can provide take-out only or require patrons to present the BC Vaccine card showing they are fully vaccinated.
- Licensed establishments and those with table service must not serve alcohol between 10pm-9am and must require patrons to present the BC Vaccine Card showing they are fully vaccinated.
- Bars and nightclubs (no meal service) will be closed
- Sport events spectators (indoor and outdoor) are limited to 50% capacity, must have a safety plan, and require attendees to wear masks and present their BC Vaccine Card showing they are fully vaccinated
These measures will be in effect until midnight on November 19, 2021, pending case counts and vaccination rates. More information can be found here.