Religious communities

Advice for religious communities including providing last rites, funerals, and advice for Muslim communities.

At different Alert Levels, gatherings may not be able to 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 1

There is no limit on the number of people who can attend a religious event or ceremony at Alert Level 1.

We encourage you to print off and display NZ COVID Tracer app QR codes at religious events and ceremonies to keep track of attendees.

Get your QR code poster

Stay safe at Alert Level 1

At Alert Level 1, we still need to play it safe. We all need to be ready in case COVID-19 comes back into the community.

To be ready at Alert Level 1:

  • maintain good hygiene
  • stay home if you’re sick
  • get tested if you have cold or flu symptoms
  • keep track of where you’ve been and who you’ve seen.

Get more advice on living at Alert Level 1, including keeping your distance, wearing face coverings and contact tracing for businesses

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.

Defined spaces

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

Gatherings legally must: 

  • have no more than 100 people in each defined space excluding staff, for example clergy
  • 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. If the place of worship is a workplace, you legally must display an NZ COVID Tracer QR code poster.

We recommend that religious and faith-based gatherings follow social gathering rules, unless they’re operating under a club licence to sell alcohol. Then we recommend following hospitality rules.

We recommend not participating in any gatherings if you have COVID-19 symptoms or if you need to be in isolation for any reason.

We recommend following the general guidance for gatherings, including measures such as frequent cleaning, good hygiene, wearing face coverings and physical distancing.

More information about gatherings and events at Alert Level 2.

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 legally must adhere to the visiting policy of the health facility and follow the relevant infection prevention and control procedures.

Advice for Muslim communities at Alert Level 2

Halaal butchers

Halaal butchers may open, and you may enter the store. The shop legally must adhere to physical distancing and contact tracing requirements.

Funerals and last rites

The Imam or religious person can provide last rites in a hospital, hospice or private residence under Alert Level 2. In a health facility, they will need to adhere with the relevant visiting policy and infection prevention procedures.

Funeral guidelines during Alert Level 2

At Alert Level 2, 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.

A maximum of 100 people can attend the funeral.

Religious events and ceremonies at Alert Level 3

Weddings, and funerals and tangihanga can be held but are limited to a maximum of 10 people.

More information on gatherings and events at Alert Level 3

Places of worship can use a variety of online methods to safely continue religious services.

Providing last rites

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.

Advice for Muslim communities at Alert Level 3

Halaal butchers

Halaal butchers may open, but orders need to be taken online or by phone. You cannot enter the premises. We recommend either collecting your meat or getting it delivered to your home.  

Funerals and last rites

The Imam or religious person 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.

Funeral guidelines during Alert Level 3

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

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.

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