EQUALITY FOR VICTORIA’S PEOPLE OF FAITH
Dear Premier Daniel Andrews,
We, people of Victoria’s faith community, request that the ‘Roadmap for Reopening' be amended so that people of faith and places of worship are treated equitably and fairly.
The 2016 national census indicates that approximately 60% of Victorians identify as religious. For people of faith, the ability to practise our beliefs – including through public worship – is essential to our wellbeing. As it stands, the ‘Roadmap’ suggests that our wellbeing has not been given due consideration.
We are particularly concerned about the inequitable treatment of people of faith under ‘Step 3’ of your ‘Roadmap’. For example, ‘Step 3’ permits cafes and restaurants to seat up to 20 people indoors and 50 people outdoors yet restricts religious communities to outdoor gatherings of only 10 people and indoor private worship limited to 'household bubbles'.
There is no logical reason for this discrepancy. People of faith are able to attend a service in a place of worship whilst wearing a face mask; physical distancing is not a challenge in what are often very large venues; services are time-limited and rigorous infection-control measures are able to be implemented. A place of worship can and should be accessible in a COVID-safe way.
Religious organisations should be afforded the same opportunity to open for indoor worship with density quotients equivalent to those seen in other parts of the community such as hospitality. We were afforded the opportunity as we emerged from the first lockdown; we deserve to be afforded the same opportunity again as we emerge from the second lockdown.
Premier Andrews, we, people of Victoria’s faith community, request that you adjust the ‘Roadmap for Reopening’ in a way that secures the equitable treatment of religious communities and grants us the opportunity to practise our faith in a COVID-safe manner.
People of all faiths, Victoria