REGINA -- Places of worship can resume services starting June 8, according to an update to the Reopen Saskatchewan Plan.

The newly released guidelines, coming into effect in phase three, allow one third capacity inside of a facility up to a maximum of 30 people.

Places of worship must still ensure that a physical distance of two metres is maintained between individual households.

The provinces is encouraging places of worship to continue to deliver services virtually or in a drive-in capacity. Anyone who is medically vulnerable is also being encouraged to delay their return to service, and instead  attend virtually.

Registration for any participants is also recommended, to manage the total number of people attending a service.

Seating should be arranged to make sure physical distancing is being observed at all times. If multiple gatherings are held in the same day, there needs to be a time buffer to make sure two groups are not entering or exiting the building at the same time.

Higher-risk activities

The province says all physical contact, such as handshaking or passing of objects between people, is not permitted.

Microphones are not to be shared between people, since they are difficult to clean and disinfect. The Government of Saskatchewan says singing is a high-risk activity, since the virus can be spread through saliva or respiratory droplets, and it is not recommended right now.

If participants choose to sing, they must wear a mask.

Leaders of services that are required to sing must increase their distance between the congregation and/or wear a mask.

The use of woodwind and brass instruments are also not recommended.

Ceremonies that involve physical contact between people should be modified to maintain distance. If distance is not possible, personal protective equipment should be worn.

The province says the celebration of communion is challenging due to the “possibility of inadvertently transmitting the virus.” Communities must exercise “extreme caution” if they choose to proceed with offering communion. Protocols will be required to be developed to make sure communion is offered in a way that safeguards the health of the communicants and celebrant.

Books and other common-use items should be removed from use, if possible. The provinces suggests projecting materials or distributing single-use materials instead.