Information about restrictions on religion and ceremonies in metropolitan Melbourne.

First Step

11.59pm on 13 September 2020

First Step: Religion and ceremony - metropolitan Melbourne

What does this mean I can do?

In metropolitan Melbourne:

  • You cannot attend a religious service – we encourage you to use online services, where feasible, instead to engage people in worship.
  • Funerals held in metropolitan Melbourne will be restricted to 10 mourners (not including infants under 12 months of age) plus people required to conduct the funeral. You can travel to a funeral outside of metropolitan Melbourne. Restrictions apply based on the location of the funeral. You should not attend a funeral if you are feeling unwell.
  • Weddings and funerals held in a person’s residence cannot have a nominated person, under the ‘single social bubble’ in addition to the persons allowed under the existing restrictions for weddings and funerals in a home.

You must wear a face covering whenever you leave home, unless you have a lawful reason for not doing so. You should maintain your physical distance of 1.5 metres from others.

Your questions answered

Summary of restrictions

If you live in metropolitan Melbourne:

  • You cannot travel to a wedding outside of metropolitan Melbourne.
  • You cannot book or hold a wedding within or outside metropolitan Melbourne, even if it has previously been booked.
  • Places of religion and worship must close for both religious ceremonies and private worship, but those who are necessary to stream a service can attend for these purposes. This is limited to up to five people.
  • Funerals held in metropolitan Melbourne will be limited to 10 mourners plus those required to conduct the funeral. You can travel to a funeral outside of metropolitan Melbourne.
  • You must maintain your physical distance of 1.5 metres from others and wear a face covering.

Are places of worship open?

All places of worship of all denominations in metropolitan Melbourne are closed for private worship or religious ceremonies.

Ceremonies and services can still be recorded or broadcast live from the place of worship for viewing online. Those who are necessary to conduct the ceremony may be on site to record and live stream services, however this is limited to a maximum of five people. You should ensure those people wear a face covering and maintain physical distancing by keeping at least 1.5 metres between each other at all times.

Places of worship may be opened for the purposes of conducting permitted weddings or funerals, but there are strict limits on the number of people who can attend.

Places of worship can continue to be open for essential public support services such as food banks, help for the homeless or other essential activities, ensuring a face covering is worn and appropriate physical distancing is maintained by keeping at least 1.5 metres between everyone at all times.

Can religious groups meet?

No. Gatherings for the purposes of worship, prayer groups, or any other religious purposes may only occur remotely. 

A maximum of five people can attend a place of worship to conduct a religious ceremony that is being broadcast or livestreamed.

Only essential support groups, such as drug and alcohol or family violence support groups, can gather in places of worship, with no more than 10 people - the number of permitted people is calculated by the density quotient of one person per four square metres of floor space.
 
Places of worship are required to adhere to the Department of Health and Human Services’ coronavirus (COVID-19) cleaning, density, signage and record keeping requirements.

I live in metropolitan Melbourne - can I attend a funeral?

Yes, but funerals held in metropolitan Melbourne will be limited to 10 mourners plus those required to conduct the funeral. Children who are under one year of age are not counted in the 10 person limit. A funeral held in a private residence in metropolitan Melbourne will be limited to the members of the household, plus the people required to conduct the ceremony. Funerals held in a person’s residence cannot have a nominated person, under the ‘single social bubble’.

You can travel to a funeral outside of metropolitan Melbourne, where limits to the number of mourners also apply.

If you require childcare so you can attend a funeral, and there is no one else in your household able to supervise your child/ren, you can have someone mind your child/ren.

You must wear a face covering, unless you have a lawful reason for not doing so. Even with a face covering, you should keep at least 1.5 metres distance between you and others.

You should not attend a funeral if feeling unwell.

Can a faith leader visit someone at home for their last rites?

Under Stage 4 restrictions, faith leaders may visit someone in their home on request to share spiritual ministry (or equivalent religious services) to provide care and support to a person who is at the end of their life.

It is critical measures like face coverings and physical distancing are observed, and that the travel to the person’s home and the visit are limited to what is reasonably required and necessary (e.g. only required attendees should visit and just for the service).

Such services can also be provided using video or live streaming, if it is appropriate under the relevant depending on religious tradition.

Can last rites be provided in hospitals or aged care facilities?

Under Stage 4 restrictions, faith leaders may visit someone in a hospital or care facility to share spiritual ministry (or equivalent religious services) to those who are at the end of their life, or if it would support a patient or resident with their emotional or mental wellbeing, in line with other visiting restrictions and if this support cannot be provided remotely.

It is important to note that strict limits on visitors apply in these circumstances. It is critical measures like face coverings and physical distancing are observed and these visits are limited to what is reasonably required and necessary (e.g. a visit has been requested by a patient). Such services can also be provided using video or live streaming, depending on religious tradition.

Can I get married if I have compassionate grounds to do so?

You may have compassionate grounds to marry if you or your partner will be deported if you are not married, or one of you is receiving end of life care.

If you are getting married on compassionate grounds, only five people can attend your wedding – you and your partner, two witnesses and the celebrant. Weddings held in a person’s residence cannot have a nominated person, under the ‘single social bubble’.

Can I travel to regional Victoria to get married?

No. People who live in metropolitan Melbourne cannot book or hold a wedding in regional Victoria, even if it has previously been booked.

Can I attend a wedding?

No, unless you are the witness for a wedding permitted under compassionate grounds. Weddings in metropolitan Melbourne cannot occur and you must not travel outside metropolitan Melbourne to attend a wedding.

Can I attend a prayer group?

All in-person prayer groups in metropolitan Melbourne must stop meeting in person. You can hold a prayer group online or use video conferencing, if feasible.

Can I visit a cemetery outside of attending a funeral?

Yes, you can visit a cemetery in metropolitan Melbourne with one other person, or a member of your household. You cannot travel more than 5km from your house to visit a cemetery if you live within metropolitan Melbourne. You must wear a face covering, unless you have a lawful reason for not doing so. Even with a face covering, you should keep 1.5 metres distance between you and others.

How is this enforced?

Directions continue to be enforced through spot checks by Victoria Police and use of emergency powers by DHHS Authorised Officers to ensure compliance with the Public Health Directions.

Industry bodies, Victoria Police, WorkSafe, and Authorised Officers will work together to inform Victorians about the directions, as well as undertake enforcement and compliance activities as needed.

Members of the public can raise concerns about venues through the Police Assistance Line (PAL) on 131 444.  Workers can raise concerns via WorkSafe on 1800 136 089. Employers can talk to their industry regulator or peak body for specific industry related support.

A Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak Joint Intelligence Unit has been established to support comprehensive preparedness and responses to outbreaks and identify and manage outbreak risks.

DHHS and WorkSafe is co-ordinating intelligence and information on businesses that are non-compliant.

What are the penalties for non-compliance?

Victoria Police can issue on the spot fines of up to $1,652 for individuals and up to $9,913 for businesses for: 

  • refusing or failing to comply with the emergency directions
  • refusing or failing to comply with a public health risk power direction   
  • refusing or failing to comply with the Public Health Directions to provide information.

Fines of up to $20,000 for individuals and $100,000 for businesses are possible through the court system. Individuals who do not wear a face covering and do not have a lawful reason can be fined $200.