This Sunday is the 21st Sunday after Pentecost, which means it has now been 21 weeks since the Diocese of Toronto entered the Green Stage of our COVID-19 protocols, and 21 weeks since I last wrote to you on the topic of the pandemic. It feels like it’s time for an update.
Over the past five months, I have observed first-hand or heard from others that most parishes in the Diocese have lifted some or all of their Covid restrictions, as the Green Stage permits, and as their context and level of comfort allows. As I attend services in our churches across this Diocese, I am moved to witness the careful and joy-filled return to many of our pre-pandemic practices: singing, taking Communion in both kinds using the Common Cup, exchanging the Peace, enjoying fellowship and community events, sharing of food and drinks. God is good!
We all know that the pandemic isn’t over. New variants of the virus are still a concern, case counts are still high, our health-care system is still overburdened. As we move deeper into autumn and people increasingly gather indoors, the risk of transmission is growing again, and we are compelled to be cautious in our response to this health reality.
Yet while other dioceses in our Ecclesiastical Province have recently announced changes to their Covid policies, the Diocese of Toronto has decided to “stay the course” with our Green Stage protocols. The Green Stage allows for “local option” regarding each parish’s Covid measures, such as the wearing of masks. Each community should make its own responsible and comfortable decisions for its life together. The one exception to this is our diocesan-wide Vaccine Mandate: we continue to require a minimum of two doses of an approved Health Canada COVID-19 vaccine for all clergy, staff and volunteers. This policy remains in effect until further notice. We continue to monitor the ongoing situation carefully, and we thank you for your cooperation.
We strongly encourage and highly recommend that all parish leaders, both clergy and lay:
- Stay up to date on inoculations and take advantage of all Covid booster shots as they become available. Don’t forget your flu shot too!
- Stay home if feeling unwell for any reason.
- Isolate for a minimum of five days after a positive Covid test and wear a well-fitting KN95 mask for an additional five to ten days after isolation when interacting with others.
- Adhere to the Covid protocols of any institution you may be visiting (e.g., hospitals and care facilities).
Please remember in prayer those who are currently suffering with Covid or from the lasting effects of Covid, those who are anxious about infection and those who are at increased risk of Covid, particularly our front-line and health-care workers. May the coming weeks of fall and winter be safe and healthy for us all.
Yours in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto