Re: COVID-19

Safe Access For Everyone Guide (S.A.F.E. Guide)

As Bethel prepares to gather together again at the church building the following S.A.F.E. Guide is our plan to provide an environment that not only meets current recommendations and requirements from the government but also seeks to show loving care to each other and our community.

There is a lot of information and even more opinions on this subject. With this in mind we have sought to limit our own personal preference or opinion in order to provide a guide based on current health information and recommendations available. Never-the-less, implementing the information and recommendations in our context still left a lot of options to choose from in some circumstances. Thank you for your feedback. As we move forward with Sunday morning gatherings let us see this as an opportunity to show how as brothers and sisters in Christ we can seek to put each other’s needs and preferences before our own (Philippians 2:3-4). 

This guide will be in effect for as long as deemed necessary and is subject to change as need arises. Volunteers and staff at Bethel Baptist Church will use this guide as they work and minister in the church with adequate training provided.  

Any questions or concerns in regards to this guide can be directed to the Board through the church office at: If there is something in this guide that you are unable to follow,  then unfortunately, you will have to wait until the restrictions are eased and then enjoy safe fellowship with your friends at the church building.  

Sunday Morning Ministry Changes

At this time the following ministries will not be made available as we gather for Sunday Worship. It is our intention to re-open these aspects of our Sunday gathering when it is appropriate to do so. For now they will remain closed:

  • Nursery (baby changing station available in main floor bathroom)
  • Jr. Church
  • Coffee Time
  • Library

In addition, the following changes will be implemented:

  • Greeters will not shake hands.
  • Bulletins will not be handed out however you may subscribe to an email bulletin by emailing Mailed bulletins will only be available for those who do not have access to email.
  • Tithes and offering will not be collected during the service but there will be a donation box at the auditorium entrance. We will also continue accepting tithes and offering by mail or through e-transfer to:
  • Volunteers will be sanitizing high touch surfaces/areas (handrails, chairlift, backs of pews, door handles, bathrooms) before church and after church. 
  • Auditorium seating will be modified to allow for 2 metres of social distancing. Barriers will be in place. Only people in the same household may sit within 2 metres of one another.  Moving barriers or sitting in a pew with a barrier is not allowed. 
  • There will be designated doors for entering and exiting the auditorium.
  • In-stead of water from the water cooler, bottled water will be available as you make your way to the auditorium. Please take your bottle with you when you leave and recycle it in the bin provided. 
  • The mailbox area is closed 
  • At this time, any worship songs will be led either by a pre-recorded video or music only. Those attending will be limited to mouthing the words silently or humming.

Furthermore, those attending are to: 

  • refrain from handshaking and hugging 
  • wash hands for a minimum of 20 seconds before leaving for church and upon returning home
  • wash hands for a minimum of 20 seconds after using the washroom
  • maintain social distancing of 2 metres
  • wear a mask as required under city of St Catharines by-law No. 2020-97
  • worship in the auditorium from your seat while avoiding unnecessary time in the hallways
  • socialize in the auditorium from your seat before and after the service OR at a safe distance (2 metres) in the parking lot


Upon arrival at the church there will be one designated entrance and one designated exit in order to minimize congestion and close contact. The only exception will be for those, who due to physical need, must use the ramp/lift door for entry and exit. In addition, the following conditions must be met for all attending:

  1. No symptoms indicative of COVID-19: fever/chills, new cough or cough that is getting worse, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath (even when sitting or walking) regularly, sore throat, runny or congested nose (not allergies), unusual level of fatigue, unusual headache, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, feeling unwell for an unknown reason.
  2. Has not tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  3. Have not travelled outside of Ontario in the last 14 days
  4. Has not, to their knowledge, been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days. 
  5. Must wear a mask in accordance with city of St Catharines by-law No. 2020-97
  6. Immediate use of the provided hand sanitizer upon entry. 

Greeters will be checking that individuals attending meet these criteria. 

We are allowed to have 30% of our building’s capacity which is 120 people. In reality, though, maintaining social distancing of 2 metres per household will probably not allow for this amount. Our attendance will be monitored to ensure that we follow the 2 metres social distancing rule even if that means we cannot reach the maximum 30% capacity. In addition, for health and safety reasons the names of those attending will be recorded.

Please arrive between 10:10 a.m. and 10:25 a.m. to allow adequate time to enter and find a place to sit. Also, we ask that you try to stagger your entrance and exit so that you do not cluster with those outside your household. Please follow the ground markings outside the entrance to maintain 2 metres social distancing. 

Individuals who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 (over 70 years of age, immune-compromised, etc.) are recommended to take part in our worship service online but this decision is your personal choice and at your discretion. 

Building Changes

The following building changes are being implemented at our church:

  • Floor markings will be used to indicate the direction of movement in our halls and auditorium.
  • Floor markings will be used to indicate proper social distancing of 2 meters where a line may form such as at the bathroom.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available at the church entrance and exit immediately inside the door.
  • Appropriate signage for hand sanitizing stations, handwashing, entrances and exits, etc. 
  • bathrooms will be open but basement bathrooms will be limited to one stall and sink to allow for 2 metres of social distancing. 
  • Wherever possible, doors will remain propped open.

Mask-Wearing Rules While at the Church Building

Those attending the church will be required to wear a mask unless one of the exemptions or exceptions listed below applies.

Employee and volunteers will be required to wear a mask except when they are:

  1. Within an area of the premises where the public is not permitted access, or
  2. within or behind a physical barrier; 

When necessary a mask may be removed for the purposes of:

  1.  participating in a religious rite or ceremony that is incompatible with the face being covered; 
  2. while actively engaged in delivering a vocal artistic performance, paid for or otherwise arranged by the Operator; 
  3. consuming food or drink; or 
  4. for any emergency or medical purpose 

The following persons shall be exempt from the requirement to wear a mask: 

  1. children under five (5) years of age; 
  2. persons with medical conditions which inhibit their ability to wear a mask, including breathing difficulties or cognitive difficulties; 
  3. persons who are unable to apply or remove a mask without assistance, including those who are accommodated under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA); 
  4. persons who have protections, including reasonable accommodations, in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code which would prevent them from wearing a mask
  5. persons while assisting or accommodating another person with a hearing disability. 

Furthermore Bethel Baptist Church will not require any person to provide proof of any of the exemptions set out above.