Premier defends COVID-19 restrictions on churches

Daniel Andrews (Facebook/DanielAndrewsMP)

The Andrews Government is under pressure to explain why regional Victorians can gather in pubs and restaurants but not in places of worship. Source: Herald Sun.

Christian leaders are deeply frustrated because they believe they can provide COVIDsafe conditions equal to or better than the hospitality sector.

Churches in regional Victoria can only have 20 people for outside services, but pubs are allowed 70 outside and 40 inside.

Bacchus Marsh assistant priest Fr Marcus Goulding said the Government and health authorities had failed to produce any scientific backing for the disparity. He said the Church recognised COVID-19 as serious issue and had done everything to demonstrate churches could comply with being COVID-safe.

Premier Daniel Andrews said he would discuss the restrictions with Melbourne Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli this week, after the Archbishop expressed disappointment over the rules at the weekend.

Mr Andrews said a heavily regulated café or restaurant “is very different” to a Church and the current rules were based on public health advice.

But Archbishop Comensoli told the Herald Sun that the disparity in regional Victoria was of deep concern.

Bishop Paul Barker, of Melbourne’s Anglican diocese, said churches were not looking for special favours, but were not convinced that hospitality had higher coronavirus standards.

The Greek Orthodox and Anglican churches have also appealed to Mr Andrews to reconsider the restrictions.

FULL STORY

Pressure mounts on state government to open church services (By John Masanauskas, Shannon Deery and Cassandra Glover, Herald Sun)

RELATED COVERAGE

Archbishop Peter Comensoli: Why Victorian people of faith deserve hope, not exile (Herald Sun)

Show us the evidence: Melbourne’s doors of faith remain closed despite COVID-safe plans (Melbourne Catholic)

Cafes and cathedrals are 'very different': Andrews defends restrictions on churches (Sky News Australia)

Melbourne Archbishop says restrictions on religious gatherings are ‘unfair’ (3AW

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