Places of worship grapple with vaccine rules

Places of worship grapple with vaccine rules

Places of worship are requiring their faith leaders, staff and volunteers to offer proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“We require all of our staff to be fully vaccinated,” said Dr. El-Tantawy Attia, Manager of Masjid Toronto. “At the moment, we are not asking for proof of vaccination from the attendees of the mosque.”

While places of worship are exempt from vaccine mandates, they are encouraging congregants to get vaccinated and enforce screening, mask mandates and physical distancing for all who enter their facilities.

At the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Chair of the Board Fareed Amin said, “we are strongly encouraging all our attendees to get their double shots and mandating it for our employees.”

The Anglican Diocese of Toronto is also requiring clergy, employees and volunteers to be fully vaccinated but have decided not to require proof of vaccination to attend worship in Anglican churches within the diocese.

“I’ve heard that some of you aren’t comfortable returning to in-person worship alongside potentially unvaccinated people, and I know this may disappoint you,” wrote Bishop Andrew Asbil in a September 14 pastoral letter.

“We believe we can preserve the health and safety of our communities without denying access to worship, prayer and sacrament,” he added. “We want our churches to be places where everyone can experience the breadth and length and depth and height of God’s love, and we hesitate to bar our doors based on proof of vaccination.”

Meanwhile, the Canadian Muslim COVID-19 Task Force (CMCTF) has released a proof-of-vaccination implementation plan to assist mosques decide whether to bring in vaccine mandates.

“The rationale behind this plan is to protect our high risk community members against contracting COVID-19,” wrote CMCTF in releasing the plan. “It is also to preserve the general health of our communities, while also ensuring that our Mosques are safer for all community members.”

“Vaccine mandates require the presentation of vaccination proofs in high-risk public spaces. These mandates received an overwhelming majority support, and accommodations are available for those who cannot be vaccinated.”

“For the implementation of vaccine credentials, we created a checklist for all mosques to utilize,” noted CMCTF. “The checklists centralize on informing the mosque's staff with new policy changes, educating the community members, and assisting unvaccinated members in booking their appointments.”