Trust NZ Churches to immediately provide services under Alert Level 2 without 10 ppl limit

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Through out New Zealand’s current COVID-19 lockdown, approximately 6,000 – 7,000 families have experienced a loved one passing away, and they’ve been restrained from congregating to say their farewells together. These has caused a great deal of anxiety for families, at an already stressful time.

Many weddings have been put on hold for couples, as they’ve been restrained from congregating to celebrate this special occasion. This has left countless couples in limbo, unable to plan their futures, and proceed with big life decisions.

Church services have been prohibited from meeting and providing people with the emotional, relational and spiritual help that they need.  This has far-reaching effects on people’s mental health, and many individuals and families are unable to access spiritual instruction, prayer, counselling and mentoring that they urgently require.  Not everyone has access to the internet and technology for online services. I was talking to a gentleman the other day who lives with his wife in the country.  He has no internet, and doesn’t have a smartphone.  He relies on his church services each week for social engagement and support.

In addition, Māori, also are greatly disadvantaged at present with not being able to engage in tangi, which is an important part of Māori culture.  Te Whare Tapa Wha model also highlights that Māori are spiritual people, and therefore for their holistic well-being, they need to be able to access and engage in spiritual services.

Churches that prove they have good health precautions in place (including no hugging, keeping 1 metre physical distancing and more) should be able to meet without the restriction of only 10 people.  Churches know their attendees well, and can easily adhere to contact tracing requirements.

This government trusts schools, businesses, bars, restaurants, cinemas, sports teams to adhere to physical distancing rules, yet they won’t trust one of societies most trusted sectors....churches.

If anyone cares about individuals and their well-being, it is constantly proven to be churches.  Look at examples like the Salvation Army and the food parcels they provide. Presbyterian Support and the social services that they provide.  The Catholic churches of NZ and the multiple services that they provide. Destiny Church and their ManUp & Legacy programs, plus countless other churches.  Churches will not be reckless in how they provide their services to members.  They model day in, day out, their genuine care for people.  A lot of these churches have sacrificially been serving during this pandemic, assisting our most vulnerable and disadvantaged community members, so why are we unfairly penalising them and leaving them out in the cold with the current Alert Level 2 guidelines? Instead, we should be showing them appreciation.

The current Alert Level 2 restrictions are a breach of our religious communities rights under The New Zealand Bill of Rights.

This government needs to please immediately remove restrictions for churches under Alert Level 2 so they can provide essential services, including funerals, weddings, prayer and worship experiences, without being restricted to only 10 people gathering.