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Melbourne Archbishop says restrictions on religious gatherings are ‘unfair’

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Faith leaders say COVID-19 restrictions limiting religious gatherings are “unfair”.

Under regional Victoria’s current restrictions, pubs, cafes and restaurants may seat up to 40 people inside and 70 outside.

But religious gatherings are restricted to 20 people and must be outdoors.

Archbishop of Melbourne, Peter Comensoli, says people of faith are “being treated in a way which is unfair and difficult”.

“There seems to be one set of rules for some things and a different set of rules for people of faith,” he told Neil Mitchell.

“There’s no reasoning being offered for why there is the disparity between, say, going to a pub and going to your church.”

Mr Comensoli says he has consulted with government authorities, and has been provided with three overseas examples suggesting faith gatherings are at elevated risk of spreading COVID-19.

“They have never provided any evidence as to why there would be a difference and why religious groups are a particular risk group,” he said.

“The only information that’s ever been provided … is three examples overseas, not evidence, examples. All of them were big ticket events, big conference type things.”

He says faith leaders of all denominations want to be treated fairly.

“We’re not asking for anything special … simply that there may be parity in the various sectors,” he said.

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