Archbishop Peter A Comensoli and other faith-based groups are calling for greater clarity from the Victorian Health Department about how the Government’s roadmap rules will work once Victoria reaches its 80 per cent double-dose vaccination target, currently projected for 5 November 2021.
Under Victoria’s roadmap to reopening, once 70 per cent of Victorians over the age of 16 are fully vaccinated, places of worship will be allowed to gather up to fully vaccinated 50 people outdoors with social distancing requirements. Once 80 per cent has been reached, the number would increase to 150 fully vaccinated indoors and 500 outdoors (also for weddings and funerals).
Speaking to The Age, Archbishop Comensoli said that while all Catholics are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the notion of a vaccine passport system – in which church services or events are offered only to those who can prove they are fully inoculated against COVID-19 – could risk creating social division.
‘We have been very flexible throughout this pandemic, but we are urging Government and health authorities to make clear what the end goal is after we hit the 80 per cent full vaccination status,’ said Archbishop Comensoli.
‘It would be a tragedy if two classes of citizens, the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, were to emerge and be entrenched as we look towards a COVID-normal goal.’
The Archbishop said he and other faith leaders believe it is possible to achieve ways that will allow both vaccinated and unvaccinated people to worship in-person safely. 'I am working with other faith leaders to bring those proposals to the table so that we can work with Government to offer a safe but fair opening up of our churches.’
‘We have all felt the difficulties of lockdowns and thousands of Victorians have been unable to attend worship or receive the sacraments,' the Archbishop said.
‘Spiritual wellbeing is as important as psychological and physical wellbeing.’
Read: 'Churches fear vaccine mandates could lead to two-tiered society' (The Age, 25 September 2021)
Melbourne Catholic03 March 2024
Melbourne Catholic01 March 2024