NEXT Christian Community Risk Mitigation Plan

Coming together to worship in person and digitally beginning September 6

We have developed these guidelines as recommended by AHS and the Chief Medical Officer. We are a renter and therefore are interpreting the recommendations as Red Willow has asked because ultimately, they are legally responsible for the facility and compliance to public space health guidelines. Should we be responsible for an outbreak, not only does it affect the reputation of our community but also that of Red Willow.

Thank you for reading these guidelines, and serving one another by adhering to them. We recognize that people interpret the guidelines differently and appreciate your support of the path that has been chosen so that we might demonstrate “loving our neighbours,” in a practical way during the pandemic.

COVID 19 Stage 2 Re-launch Plan

The COVID 19 Stage 2 Re-launch allows for unlimited numbers to assemble at church as long as social distancing measures can be adhered to. Because we are in a rented facility that is much larger than our congregational needs we are confident that we don’t have to cap our numbers when we gather. Our first survey results indicate that there are a number of families who will not be able to join us face to face and will at present only be joining us digitally. Should numbers grow beyond easy physical distancing practices we would institute, as larger churches have, an online pre-registration.

Church Survey, Volunteer Form

  • Develop a survey for church members to determine interest in attending in-person services.
  • Develop an online form to solicit volunteers to assist in the following areas:
    • Greeter – Sanitization, Registration (form already in use for small gatherings) and Screening Station (seating directions)
    • Disinfecting/Cleaning during service
  • Develop an online form for attendees to book their worship attendance if numbers go over 75 people
    • The form should include risk assessment screening questions and contact information.

As per AHS guidelines:

  • The form should also include the number of attendees.
  • When attendance is confirmed, a standard email is sent to the attendee to indicate their assigned entry time and that explains the process of arrival and dismissal, safety protocols to expect, limiting carrying items, keeping coats and jackets with them, avoiding purses, etc.


  • There is no cap on the capacity for worship, as long as there is a distance of 2 metres or appropriate barriers between members of different households (with the exception of cohort families).
  • Wedding and funeral ceremonies (seated events) are limited to a maximum of 100 invitees.
  • Indoor social gatherings are limited to a maximum of 50 people (e.g., wedding or funeral receptions, classes).
  • Outdoor social gatherings are limited to a maximum of 100 people.

General Guidance

  • To limit the in-person attendance of attendees to facilitate physical distancing, adopt the following strategies:
    • Establish caps on attendance at faith-based activities and events.
    • Establish a system for attendees to RSVP to attend specific services or events to minimize overcrowding if there is any anticipation of numbers that would cause any risk of crowding
    • Continue to offer remote participation in faith-based activities in conjunction with, or as a replacement for in-person attendance.
  • Attendees will be asked to wear non-medical facemasks during service and church activities. Should any attendee not have a mask, NEXT will provide one. (exemption for those who have health reasons to not wear one)
  • Individuals who are immune-compromised are best advised to remain home at this time.
  • Seniors and those with chronic medical conditions should exercise great caution and may wish to remain at home until things return to normal.
  • Individuals who have fever, cough, difficulty breathing, runny nose, sore throat, or who are otherwise sick must not attend.
  • Encourage attendees to use the online Alberta Health Services COVID-19 Self-Assessment tool before every visit to the church.
  • Inform attendees that all Albertans must follow CMOH Order 05-2020, which establishes the following legal requirements for quarantine and isolation.
    • Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19; with a history of international travel in the last 14 days; or with close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days must remain at home.
  • Post COVID-19 signage in highly visible locations.
    • Utilize Help Prevent the Spread video and posters from Alberta Health.
    • Utilize signs on physical distancing, the direction of flow, coughing etiquette, hand sanitizing instructions and hand washing instructions.
    • To support public health contact tracing efforts in the event that an attendee tests positive, NEXT will collect the names and contact information of attendees as they come in the main doors and are greeted at the sanitation and registration desk
    • Records will be kept for 2 weeks.
    • If there is an on-site exposure, all individuals who were present at the time of exposure will be notified that exposure may have occurred and attendance lists from the time of the exposure will be shared with Alberta Health Services for contact tracing purposes only.
  • Determine and direct the flow of people into and out of the sanctuary and church while maintaining 2-metre physical distancing.
  • Attendees may congregate in the church lobby before or after worship service as long as 2-metre distance is maintained double doors to fellowship/dinning hall will be open to allow for adequate space for visiting while physically distancing.
  • Parents, families, or caregivers should keep children with them at all times.
  • Inform attendees of hand sanitizing stations and encourage regular use of them, particularly on entering and exiting the church.


  • Adjustments to support physical distancing in faith-based activities will include:
    • Controlling and staggering entry into and exit from the church before and after group activities or events (e.g. by giving dismissing instructions to individuals. To avoid congestion by household or section, rather than all at once).
    • Establishing different points of entry and exit from high traffic areas. Arranging/marking seating to ensure physical distancing. (pews will be marked with taped x’s where people should not be sitting. This will include not using the first three rows of pews so that musicians have appropriate distance while leading worship)
  • Frequently clean and disinfect high-touch/shared surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, toilet handles, faucets and taps.
    • Cleaning guidance can be found in Alberta Health Services’ Environmental Cleaning Guidance.
    • Sanitizer will be available in the bathroom. Please spray the toilet handle and the taps you use. This sanitizer is designed to be left on the surface to dry. Please use hand sanitizer again after you leave the bathroom to avoid contamination from the sanitizer spray bottle.
  • Water fountains will be covered and not available for public use.
  • Hand sanitizing stations are set up in the church (three in the lobby, gym side lobby and fellowship-dining hall.
  • Use of the washrooms is discouraged. If the washrooms must be used, only one person at a time unless it is by family/cohort family members.
  • Pew Bibles and tithe envelopes will be removed from the Sanctuary. We would ask that you give electronically if that is at all possible for you through the app or online. If you do use the offering box in the lobby we would ask that you immediately sanitize your hands and recognize that your cash or cheques will be held for several days before being processed for deposit.

Higher Risk Activities

  • Any activity or practice that increases the risk of COVID-19 through contact (touching surfaces) or droplet transmission (sneezing, coughing, singing, shouting) should be discontinued or altered to prevent the risk.

Singing, Live Music & Performances COVID-19 can be transmitted through saliva or respiratory droplets while singing, or when performing live music and drama in close proximity. As such, these activities should be considered to be higher risk and carefully managed with appropriate physical distancing.

  • Singing and using wind instruments are higher risk activities which will require worship teams to be appropriately distanced from the congregation while leading. Hand-held microphones should not be shared. This includes between emcees and those speaking. Podium or stand microphones can be shared but should not be touched by speakers.
  • Congregational singing is discouraged. Where appropriate, attendees can be encouraged to hum along to worship music.
  • Performances that include singing – soloists or in small groups – should take the following precautions:
    • Keep singers completely separate from the audience and each other by carefully marking placement positions on platforms for non-cohort groups leading
    • Limit the number of people singing in the same place to the fewest possible. No choir or larger group ensembles.
    • Have people sing facing away from each other
    • Use pre-prepared audio or video recordings.
    • Have singers wear face masks while singing.

Interpersonal Interactions

  • Shaking hands, hugging, touching, or passing items between people compromise the 2-metre distance between congregants and must not occur, except between members of the same household or cohort family. Alternatives such as waving, nodding, or bowing should be encouraged.
  • Religious rituals that involve physical contact between individuals, such as anointing with oil or baptisms increase the likelihood of disease transmission and should be performed in an alternate fashion that minimizes physical contact.
  • Everyone in the place of worship should follow proper respiratory etiquette practices at all times. These practices include coughing and sneezing into the elbow or a tissue, discarding the tissues into a lined garbage bin and washing hands afterwards.
  • You can expect to be reminded regularly of the physical distancing requirement if the grouping of individuals inadvertently ends up too close to maintain safety.


  • If food and drink must be provided as part of a faith-based ritual (e.g. communion), the following precautions must be taken to prevent the risk of infection:
    • Food or drink must be served to congregants in pre-packaged or individual portions by a small number of designated individuals.
    • Food and drink containers or utensils (e.g. communion plates) should not be shared or passed between attendees.
    • Physical contact between the designated serving individuals and attendees must not occur while serving food or drink.
    • The designated serving individuals should wash or sanitize hands immediately before serving and put on disposable gloves and should wear a clean, properly-fitted non-medical mask for the duration of the time spent serving.
  • Although it is permitted by Alberta Health that attendees may bring their own food and beverages. We would ask that cups be kept in hand and not placed on surfaces.
  • Food and beverages should not be shared between households.
  • Coffee and Tea will not be prepared or served at church.

Shared Items

  • Do not hand out or share items that cannot be cleaned or sanitized before and after each use (e.g. books, programs, bulletins, bibles)
  • Attendees should bring their own items and avoid sharing them with others.
  • Do not share microphones.
  • Do not pass offering plates between congregants. Alternatives include:
    • A designated area to place tithes/offerings. Tithes and offerings collected should be left untouched for 24 hours.
    • Online donations and eTransfers.

Children’s Programs and Other Facility Uses

  • Offering faith-based programs or classes for children under the age of 2 is not permitted at this time.
  • Although faith-based programs or classes for children over the age of 2 are permitted to operate with adherence to the Guidance for Day Camps, NEXT kids programming will be offered, as volunteers are available. We will be making available colouring boxes for in-service use which kids will be given before the teaching time begins for parents who wish to keep their children with them.
  • We cannot use the usual play equipment and so each child will be given an activity bag, for in-class participation, colouring sheets and simple craft projects (for instance they will have their own glue stick, etc) The program will by necessity be simple. Story, colouring, simple craft when possible etc. We will not be able to do learning and activity stations etc.

Other Uses of the Facility

  • Places of worship that freely offer or rent spaces within their facilities to other groups or businesses must ensure that these groups or businesses abide by all orders of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and all applicable public health guidance documents.
  • The operator is responsible for ensuring that any parties renting or using space in the place of worship have plans and mechanisms in place to prevent infection transmission amongst their staff, volunteers, and patrons.
  • At present only NA&AA are meeting in the church on Wednesday evening. No access by NEXT staff or volunteers from 7:00 – 10:00
  • Kitchen is being used by commercially licensed caterers occasionally during the week.
  • Very little rental activity is happening at this time

Air Circulation

  • Red Willow has had professional consultation and h so that air continues to be appropriately circulated. This will mean that we cannot make adjustments to thermostats. It will be kept at a comfortable setting that is pre-set in advance of our gathering time. As the weather changes, this may mean it is too cool or too warm some Sundays. Thermostats will be adjusted during the week to make adjustments week to week. We suggest that you dress in layers.
  • Red Willow is continuing to have regular janitorial and sanitization staff service the building every day between users.
  • Red Willow at present is not returning to a full group gathering. They have a small group gathering on Saturday mornings in the traditions conference room. Chairs are sanitized after they are used.