Faith-based gatherings

Advice on going to a place of worship, attending a faith-based celebration or festival, and for people who are responsible for places of worship.

Faith-based gatherings at Alert Level 1

At Alert level 1, there are no restrictions on the number of people that can attend a faith-based gathering. This includes:

  • attending a service or prayer
  • funerals and tangihanga
  • weddings and civil union ceremonies
  • faith-based celebrations and festivals.

Funerals, tangihanga and last rites at Alert Level 1

Weddings and civil unions at Alert Level 1

Faith-based gatherings at Alert Level 2

At Alert Level 2, places of worship can host services and ceremonies to a maximum of 100 people in any indoor or outdoor defined space. The gathering limits do not include staff — for example, clergy.

Defined spaces

Advice for places of worship

  • All places of worship must have ways for attendees to record their visit. This can be done by asking everyone to scan in using the NZ COVID Tracer app, or by recording their contact details manually.
  • Offer online services so people who cannot attend in person can participate.
  • Some religious rituals or practices need close contact — for example, a christening. Try to keep the time spent in close contact to a minimum.
  • Remove communal resources such as prayer mats or prayer books.
  • Encourage attendees to wear a face covering.
  • Clean and sanitise musical instruments and other shared surfaces thoroughly before and after use.
  • Singing, for example church choirs and other types of performance can go ahead. Performers do not need to wear a face covering.
  • You can serve food and drink and host events or functions such as catered morning tea — as long as you keep to the gathering limits.
  • Encourage contactless donations instead of a cash collection box.

Funerals, tangihanga and last rites at Alert Level 2

Funerals advice for faith-based leaders | health.govt.nz (external link)

Weddings and civil unions at Alert Level 2

If you are going to a place of worship

  • We strongly encourage you to wear a face covering when visiting a place of worship.
  • You can mix with friends and whānau, but please be considerate of others and leave enough space for people to keep their distance if they want to.
  • Do not attend a service or prayer if you are unwell.
  • Scan in using the NZ COVID Tracer app or give your details to the place of worship to support contact tracing.
  • Take home any personal items you bring in with you — for example, a prayer mat or prayer beads.

Celebrations and festivals

At Alert Level 2, you can get together with up to 100 people for a faith-based celebration or festival. The number of people who can attend a gathering or celebration does not include anyone leading or working at the gathering.

If you are organising a faith-based celebration, you need to do the following:

  • Make sure you do not exceed the gathering limits. You can offer a livestream option so more people can attend from home.
  • Keep a record of everyone who attends. You can do this by creating a NZ COVID Tracer app QR code for your venue or location and asking your guests to scan in, or by recording their contact details manually. You do not need to keep contact tracing records if you are hosting a private gathering at your home and everyone knows each other.
  • Make sure the venue is big enough for people to spread out comfortably if they want to.
  • Try to provide seated table service if you are serving food or drinks. Seat extended household bubbles together at one table and place the tables 2 metres apart to help with physical distancing.

Travelling to a faith-based gathering at Alert Level 2

At Alert Level 2, you can travel to other regions that are at Alert Level 1 or 2 to attend a faith-based gathering — such as services, ceremonies and festivals. If the gathering is in an Alert Level 2 region, the gathering limits apply.

If you are travelling to an Alert Level 1 region to attend a faith based gathering, make sure you do it in a safe way. This includes:

  • keeping a record of who you have been in contact with, and what transport services you used
  • wearing a face covering on public transport services and flights
  • keeping a 2 metre distance from people you do not know
  • regularly washing or sanitising your hands.

Travelling across an Alert Level 3 area

You can only travel into and out of the Alert Level 3 area (in 1 trip) to attend a:

  • funeral or tangihanga, or a
  • wedding or civil union service

You cannot cross travel across the Alert Level boundary to attend any other type of faith-based gathering.

If you are crossing the Alert Level 3 boundary:

  • your place of departure or destination cannot be in the Alert Level 3 area, and your travel must be necessary to get to the service.
  • you must not stop, so far as reasonably practicable, on your journey. You can stop in an emergency, to use a toilet or get petrol, but you must follow Alert Level 3 guidance.

Remember to keep a record of who you have been in contact with, and what transport services you used. 

Faith-based gatherings at Alert Level 3

At Alert Level 3, places of worship can only open to members of the public for weddings, civil union ceremonies, funerals and tangihanga. These services are limited to 10 people — this includes the faith-based leader officiating the wedding, civil union, funeral or tangihanga.

Funerals, tangihanga and last rites at Alert Level 3

Funerals advice for faith-based leaders | health.govt.nz (external link)

Weddings and civil unions at Alert Level 3

Services can be livestreamed.

We encourage whānau to pray or worship together in their household bubbles and join a livestream online.

Advice for places of worship

Services and ceremonies can be livestreamed. You can go onto the premises if you are conducting the service or are involved in broadcasting the livestream event — for example, a camera person.

Places of worship can also open to provide an essential service — for example, a food bank or vaccination centre. Members of the public are permitted to enter the premises to use the essential service.

Anyone visiting a place of worship to access an essential service must wear a face covering and keep 2 metres away from people who are not in their household bubble.

Celebrations and festivals

At Alert Level 3, we still need to stay in our household bubbles. Gathering together for faith-based celebrations and festivals is not permitted.

You can come together within your existing household bubble and you can also expand your bubble slightly to bring in close family, caregivers, or to support people who may be isolated. Keep your bubble small and exclusive.

We encourage you to talk to your whānau and friends to plan how you can all celebrate together virtually.

Faith-based gatherings at Alert Level 4

At Alert Level 4, places of worship cannot open to the public for faith-based ceremonies or services. This includes weddings, civil unions and funerals and tangihanga.

Funerals, tangihanga and last rites at Alert Level 4

Funerals advice for faith-based leaders | health.govt.nz (external link)

Weddings and civil unions at Alert Level 4

We acknowledge that this may be difficult for people who want to gather together for prayer or worship. Services can be livestreamed from a church, mosque, marae, temple or other place of worship.

Advice for places of worship

You can go onto the premises if you are conducting the service or are involved in broadcasting the livestream event — for example, a camera person.

Places of worship can open to provide an essential service — for example, a food bank or vaccination centre. Members of the public are permitted to enter the premises to use the essential service.

Anyone visiting a place of worship to access an essential service must wear a face covering and keep 2 metres away from people who are not in their household bubble.

Celebrations and festivals

At Alert Level 4, gathering together for faith-based celebrations or festivals is not permitted. You can come together within your existing household bubble to celebrate with the people you live with.

We encourage you to talk to your whānau and friends to plan how you can all celebrate together virtually.

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