Religious communities

Advice for religious communities around COVID-19.

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Changes to religious events and ceremonies

Gatherings cannot go ahead as usual because they present a very high risk of transmitting COVID-19. This means we need to change how we come together for religious events and ceremonies, and it will also impact a number of other religious practices.

Religious events and ceremonies at Alert Level 2

Religious buildings can open at Alert Level 2. Up to 100 people can gather in each defined space for religious ceremonies, events and services.

A defined space is an area that is partitioned off from other areas by permanent or temporary walls. Faith-based institutions and clubs can operate with defined spaces, with up to 100 people in each area. You will need to prevent mingling between groups in common spaces, for example entrances, exits and toilets.

Read more about defined spaces at Alert Level 2

Gatherings should: 

  • have no more than 100 people in each defined space excluding staff, for example clergy
  • keep high hygiene standards
  • keep attendees who do not know each other 1 metre apart
  • record attendees to ensure contact tracing can be done if necessary — but you don’t need to do this if each person at the gathering knows everyone.

Religious and faith-based gatherings should follow social gathering rules, unless they are operating under a club licence to sell alcohol. Then they should follow hospitality rules.

You shouldn’t participate in any gatherings if you have COVID-19 symptoms or if you need to be in isolation for any reason.

You should follow the general guidance for gatherings, including measures such as frequent cleaning, good hygiene and physical distancing.

Providing last rites

At Alert Level 2, priests, imam, and religious celebrants can provide last rites in a hospital, hospice or private residence. If the person they’re visiting who is dying is in a health facility, they must adhere to the visiting policy of the health facility and follow the relevant infection prevention and control procedures.

Religious events and ceremonies at Alert Level 3

The Alert Level 4 rules for gatherings and events still apply under Alert Level 3, with limited exceptions. Weddings, funerals and tangihanga can be held but are limited to a maximum of 10 people.

See more information on gatherings and events

As with Alert Level 4, many places of worship are using a variety of online methods to safely continue religious services.

Priests, Imam and religious celebrants can provide last rites in a hospital, hospice or private residence under Alert Level 3. In a health facility, they will need to adhere with the relevant visiting policy and infection prevention procedures.

 

Religious events and ceremonies at Alert Level 4

At Alert Level 4, all religious gatherings and events cannot proceed.

Many places of worship are catering for communities using a variety of online methods.

More information on gatherings and events

Religious leaders and funerals

People who would normally perform a religious role at funerals and tangihanga, such as priests, cannot perform funerals in person during Alert Level 4. They are not on the list of essential services for Alert Level 4, and therefore should be staying at home.

E-funerals are a way that religious leaders can continue to provide their services to grieving families during this difficult time.

Bereaved families will find this especially difficult, but it is important that as few people as possible travel and interact with other people so we can eradicate COVID-19.

Read more information on funerals and tangihanga 

Advice for Muslim communities

Ramadan during Alert Levels 3 and 4

Mosques and other faith-based venues must remain closed during Alert Levels 3 and 4, although at Alert Level 3 mosque workers may go into the mosque to work, for example, to conduct an online service.

You and your bubble can come together to mark religious events such as Ramadan. At Alert Level 3, you can expand your bubble to include close family and caregivers, or to support isolated people. However, you must keep your bubble small and exclusive at all times. 

You are encouraged to hold iftar (breaking the fast at sunset) and isha (the last prayers of the day) within your bubble. If Eid (the end of Ramadan) occurs during Alert Level 3, you must remain in your household bubble.  

Halaal butchers

Halaal butchers may open, but orders need to be taken online or by phone. Customers cannot enter the premises. Meat should either be collected outside the store, or delivered direct to the home.  

Funerals and last rites

If the dying person is in a hospital or other health facility, the Imam or religious person may visit to perform the rites of passage and practical tasks around that person’s death, but they will need to adhere to the relevant visiting policy and infection prevention procedures.

Different rules apply at Alert Level 3 and Alert Level 4.

Funeral guidelines during Alert Level 4 (external link)

At Alert Level 3, funerals can be officiated by your Imam. Funeral directors will work closely with Muslim communities to support ghusl (ritual washing) and janaza (prayer over the body) being carried out safely.

At Alert Level 3, a maximum of 10 people will be able to attend the funeral.

Information for Muslim communities

We have information sheets for Muslim communities available in different languages:

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