Vaccinations Be Mandatory For Places Of Worship
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed restrictions on worship services in Australia. Limits on attendance, bans on singing, and even closure have all been part of the restrictions. This has impacted on people’s freedom to practice their religion. These restrictions are generally accept by religious people, just like other COVID restrictions.
There may be some light at the end for religious institutions. This includes allowing certain unvaccinated persons to visit places of worship. Religious leaders are still uncertain because the states and territories will decide their own rules for reopening public venues.
Religious leaders might have to refuse entry to unvaccinated people at certain places of worship, making it difficult for them to continue their faith. This raises an interesting legal issue about how to balance freedom religion with public health protections.
What Strategies Worship Of Victoria And NSW?
With 70% of adults having received full vaccination, NSW’s places of worship will be open to vaccinated persons, but there are some limitations on their capacity and no singing. The vaccination rate will reach 80% and the unvaccinated can attend public worship with the same limitations.
They won’t be allow to enter other public venues such as stores, restaurants, hairdressers, or gyms until December 1. Businesses may also continue to limit access to those who are not vaccinate, as the government warned.
Victoria is taking a different approach. Places of worship can hold outdoor services at a 70% full vaccination rate. This means that there will be 50 people vaccinate, and one person per 4m2. The attendance limit will be 20 if attendees not vaccinate. Indoor worship for fully vaccinated persons will be allow at 80% with a cap 150 and social distancing.
For up to 500 people who have been vaccinate, outdoor worship is allow. If the vaccination status of worshippers is unknown, the 20-person cap and one-person-per-four-square-metre rule will remain. It is still to seen how other states and territories will respond when they publish their reopening plans.
Why Unvaccinated Can Go To Church, But Not The Footy?
The NSW government has not provided an official reason for opening temples, mosques, and churches to unvaccinated people, but it has not offered entertainment or sports venues. Freedom of religion is the most likely explanation.
Many religions include elements of communal worship and public gathering. These practices have been severely restrict by COVID restrictions. Public gatherings are now strictly prohibit by strict stay-at home orders. Many religions have made the transition to streaming or online worship.
International law recognizes freedom of religion as a fundamental human rights. Article 18 of UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. To have or adopt a religion or belief that he chooses, and to be free to worship, observe, practice, teach, or share his belief with others.
However, there are limitations to this freedom. This covenant also allows freedom of religion You may only be subject to the restrictions that are required by law to protect public safety or order or health or fundamental rights and freedoms.
As state premiers begin to lift COVID restrictions, there is a big question: To what extent do religious restrictions need to be lifted to protect public health? We should expect diverse approaches to the reopening of public worship places, due to differences in opinion about COVID restrictions.