Albury church members are singing outdoors, via a roster or not at all in efforts to comply with NSW government coronavirus rules that have been described as inconsistent and unclear.
Member for Albury Justin Clancy said a message he received from the Premier yesterday indicated the restrictions surrounding congregational singing were now under consideration.
After changes before Christmas allowed carol services to go ahead, the NSW government information since early January has stated no more than five people should sing indoors and congregational members should not join in.
Victorian church goers are allowed to sing with masks on, a condition removed from the NSW government website on January 10.
"Music and singing are an important part of our faith communities," Mr Clancy said. "It's incongruous that with relaxation of restrictions in other aspects of life that this still remains and I'll certainly be pushing on that."
The government wording, using "should" not "must", has led also to different interpretations.
"'Should' implies a level of discretion but I appreciate the concern for churches and other organisations in terms that they want to do the right thing by their community and by the rules," Mr Clancy said.
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At St Mark's, part of the Anglican Parish of Northern Albury, attendees sing the opening and closing hymns outdoors, with the rest of the service in the church.
Priest in charge Emily Payne said this compromise arrangement still excluded some people.
"It is quite difficult for some of our folks with poor mobility, some of them are actually not able to participate," Reverend Payne said.
"Some of my most elderly folk are actually not coming in and out but are sitting in a pew, being left out."
St David's Uniting Church, Albury, has rotated choir members each week to abide by the five-singer limit while St Luke's Lutheran Church Albury is also complying with all COVID regulations.
Border organist James Flores, who plays at St Matthew's and St Patrick's, said the current situation was "really not very clear".
"It's kind of hard to determine if this is actually a rule that's policed and enforced," he said. "Will you be fined if there's more than five people singing in a church? Is it just a recommendation or is it actually law?"
A NSW Health spokeswoman said group singing was considered a high-risk activity owing to the increased chance of spreading COVID-19 when a singer projects their voice.
"There have been outbreaks associated with religious gatherings and with group singing," she said.
"Under the public health order (movement and gathering), all places of worship must have a COVID-19 safety plan, which addresses relevant issues such as group singing advice," she said.
"The NSW government continues to review the remaining COVID-19 restrictions."
Mr Flores said the five-singer rule limited social interactions for choir members in a way that could affect mental health.
"This is what brings people together and now they can't do it," he said.
A change.org petition to allow singing in NSW churches has attracted more than 4500 signatures in about five days.
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