The Governor Issues Guidance for ‘New York State on PAUSE’ plan:
This includes a 10-point policy to assure uniform safety for everyone. It includes a new directive that all non-essential businesses statewide must close in-office personnel functions effective at 8p.m. on Sunday, March 22, and temporarily bans all non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size, for any reason.
Under the guidance, nonprofits, including houses of worship, their employees and volunteers are considered essential. However, while in transit, they must be carrying their organization or congregation’s staff photo-ID or letter on letterhead verifying they are essential personnel.
Recommends all Members & Partner Congregations Adopt these Practices:
- Despite the religious exemption allowing houses of worship up to host a gathering of up to 50 people, NYDIS recommends the closure all houses of worship to public worship and community life – leaving them open only for prayer or essential social services (food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens, etc., and only if they can be operated safely with strict social distancing.
- All congregations who are able, should live stream or FaceTime their worship services and sermons. It is critical that people of faith maintain a personal and visual connection to community, tradition, communal prayer, sacraments, and sacred texts. If your congregation is technically unable, perhaps you can partner with a congregation that can provide that support.
- Regarding Last Rites and other bedside rituals or prayers. NYDIS recommends clergy work with family or healthcare professionals to offer prayers via video chat (examples: FaceTime, Snap Chat or WhatsApp).
- If Holy Communion or Holy Oil/Anointing of the Sick are to be administered, NYDIS recommends that communion and/or a cotton ball soaked in holy oil, be placed in separate zip lock bags, given to family or nursing staff, and administered under video supervision accompanied by prayers offered by a priest or other duly appointed religious leader.
- If, in accordance with any faith traditions prayers for the sick and/or dying are to be offered, they should be offered by the appropriate lay or ordained leader via video chat with a family member or medical professional holding the device bedside.
- Regarding Funerals or Burial: House of worship and funeral home funerals should be suspended, and the dead should be buried or interred during a graveside service of no more than 10 people who strictly adhere to social distancing protocols. Individuals traveling to the burial should only travel with members of their own household – if anyone is unwell, they must not attend. If desirable, the service may be live streamed or recorded to share with others not able to attend.
- No Repast or Receptions should be held following burial or cremation. For Jews, no Shiva should be held in person. Shiva calls should be made virtually.
- All pastoral care, spiritual care, and in-person visitations should be suspended. Use social media, phone calls to share regular healing prayers and message to help communities remain hopeful.
- All congregations should encourage members to take care of and check-in on their elderly and vulnerable neighbors. With the ability to travel being curtailed. Only neighbors helping neighbors will hold our humanity together – children and family cannot travel safely to care for family, we must care for them ourselves.
Things Your Congregation Leadership Need to Know
The NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund
The fund was created to aid nonprofit service providers struggling with the health and economic effects of the coronavirus. It will give grants and loans to NYC-based nonprofits that are trying to meet the new and urgent needs that are hitting the city. Priority will be given to nonprofits addressing essential healthcare and food insecurity as well as arts and culture, because New York is the cultural capital of the nation. Your gift will help nonprofits with a variety of needs, including protective equipment, cleaning supplies, technological assistance, and support for financial losses.
Things Your Congregants & Staff Need to Know:
Effective Sunday, March 22, at 8:00 PM, the City will enforce the following rules for non-vulnerable individuals with fines and mandatory closures:
· No non-essential gatherings; any concentration of people outside their home must be limited to workers providing essential services.
· Practice social distancing in public (6 feet or more).
· Individuals should limit outdoor recreational activities to non-contact.
· Limit use of public transportation to only when absolutely necessary.
· Sick individuals should not leave home except to receive medical care.