A prominent church leader has challenged the NSW government, claiming some coronavirus restrictions on religious gatherings border on discrimination. Hillsong founder Brian Houston has urged church leaders to “unite to take a stand” against ongoing restrictions in a series of social media posts. Under the current NSW Health COVID-19 restrictions, a place of public worship must not exceed 100 people and is subject to the one person per 4sq m rule. Despite the NSW government flagging an easing of restrictions to allow up to 300 people to attend weddings from December, and allowing hospitality venues to host a maximum of 500 people seated at outdoor events from last Friday, religious gatherings have so far been excluded.  “We are all committed to keeping people safe, but it seems churches are not even being considered for a steady easing of restrictions,” Pastor Houston said.

In his online post Houston went on “So interesting that the NSW Government are about to allow 300 people to attend an indoor wedding, and things are being relaxed for the hospitality industry, but still no change for churches. We have a building with space for 4000 people yet can only have 100 in there. Reason given is ‘church people know each other (are too friendly). Do you think people are not friendly at weddings? It is getting to the point where it is discrimination.” Coronavirus restrictions in regional Victoria have also followed a similar trend, with religion lagging behind hospitality businesses. Regional Victorian hospitality businesses can now host up to 40 customers indoors and 70 people outdoors, but religious gatherings are limited to 20 worshippers outdoors, which will increase to 50 from November 1.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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