The City of Toronto and Peel Region have announced stricter measures to decrease the risk of COVID-19 transmission. For more information on the new restrictions in those communities, visit the City of Toronto website and the Region of Peel website.
As a result of these government restrictions, all churches in Toronto and Peel Region that choose to stay open must reduce their gathered worship capacity to 30% with social distancing, or 50 people, whichever is less. (For the rest of the Diocese, it is 30% capacity or 50 people, whichever is greater.) No gathering for worship in Toronto or Peel Region should exceed 50 people at one time. Other than gathering for worship, no other in-person gatherings for any reason are permitted (eg., Bible study, youth group, advisory board, etc.) in Toronto or Peel Region. Parish staff are encouraged to work from home in Toronto and Peel Region and only essential visitors whose presence is required to the functioning of the workplace should attend offices/facilities.
The Diocese of Toronto’s position is clear: If the government or health authority requires churches to close, we will do so. Until required to close, however, we believe that strictly adhering to our Amber Stage guidelines is safe. Our guidelines have been vetted, indeed commended, by Public Health. There are no reports that churches have been sites of transmission in our Diocese. Having said that, parishes may choose to close to public worship if that is the right decision for their community. Speak to your bishop.
Churches may feel more comfortable worshipping with said Morning Prayer rather than the Eucharist. (Again, we emphasize that we believe our protocols for administering the Eucharist are safe, and there is no indication that celebrating the Eucharist using our guidelines has been a cause of virus transmission.) Providing opportunities for online worship is encouraged. All parishes in the Diocese of Toronto may choose to close or to reduce their gathering limits voluntarily out of an abundance of caution. Speak with your regional dean or bishop.
We will continue to monitor the situation and will provide updates as necessary.