Dee Why Priest Welcomes Church Reopening For Unvaccinated

Dee Why
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Churches have been given the freedom to open for services for both vaccinated and unvaccinated once Sydney reaches 80 percent of the target vaccination numbers. Father Stephen Salmon of St John’s Anglican Church in Dee Why hailed the decision but affirmed that efforts to protect the unvaccinated in the congregation will continue.

Speaking in the radio show 2B, Father Stephens said that “practicing religion is a basic human right” and he is glad that the state has accorded extra freedom to religious institutions to open its doors to all worshippers regardless of their vaccination status.

The priest said that whilst congregating in churches may increase vulnerability to virus transmissions, he strongly believes that those who come to pray at St John’s Anglican Church will do their best to care and be mindful of others.

Father Stephens estimates that there will be few unvaccinated members in their congregation as St John’s supports the country’s vaccination efforts. He said that hasn’t come across any anti-vaxxers but he’s aware of vaccine-hesitant individuals who may have mental anxieties about the pandemic who seek comfort in worship. 

“They come to churches, we make them welcome. We’ll be doing as much as we can to follow the rules like masks, distancing, and the rest of it to make sure they particularly are protected.”

Former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said that the state recognises places of worship as essential services not recreational sites, hence its reopening is part of Stage 2 of the Roadmap to Recovery on 25 October. Under the directive, all Sydney churches should still observe masking indoors and the four square metre social distancing rule, whether the member is fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated, or unvaccinated. 

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Churches, however, won’t be required to check the vaccination status of those who come to hear the services. Church officials, on the other hand, will understand if the vulnerable or the unvaccinated would prefer to remain at home and hear the services via live streaming. 

By 1 December, Stage 3 of the reopening plan will allow churches to adopt a two square metre social distancing rule. At this point, the state government estimates that 90 percent of the population should be fully vaccinated.