More than 10 religious organisations, including the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, are requesting the Victorian Government to include provisions for indoor worship in its roadmap out of lockdown.
The online initiative “Equality for Victoria’s People of Faith”, aims to gather 10,000 signatures from members of the public before tabling the petition in the Victorian Parliament.
Ahead of announcements for the next stage for easing of restrictions on Sunday 19 October, the signing organisations state “particularly concerned about the inequitable treatment of people of faith” under the step 3 of the roadmap.
They cite the example of step 3 provisions allowing hospitality venues to have up to 20 patrons indoors and 50 outdoors, while religious gatherings would be restricted to 10 people maximum in outdoor settings and indoor worship permitted only for household bubbles.
“There is no logical reason for this discrepancy,” the statement reads.
“People of faith are able to attend a service in a place of worship whilst wearing a face mask; physical distancing is not a challenge in what are often very large venues; services are time-limited and rigorous infection-control measures are able to be implemented. A place of worship can and should be accessible in a COVID-safe way.”
The request for adjustments to the ‘Roadmap for Reopening’ to allow for COVID-safe “indoor worship with density quotients equivalent to those seen in other parts of the community such as hospitality” is directly addressed to the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.