BENDIGO faith groups have welcomed a move allowing them to conduct religious ceremonies indoors for the first time in months.
Changes announced on Sunday mean religious groups will be able to conduct indoor services for up to 20 people, plus a faith leader.
Outdoor services will capped at 50 people, as will be funerals.
Anglican, Catholic and Uniting church leaders welcomed the new rules, which will allow freer gathering for religious ceremonies.
Anglican Diocese of Bendigo Bishop Matt Brain said the changes were welcome news, going some way to clearing up an inconsistency between eateries and places people went for spiritual care.
Bishop Brain said Bendigo's Anglican churches had remained active throughout the pandemic, but each would now assess their ability to meet cleaning, safety and hygiene requirements.
He said he expected most would mix outdoor services, online services and some indoor services, to meet a range of needs.
Catholic Bishop of Sandhurst Shane Mackinlay likewise welcomed the changes, saying they were encouraging for people of faith across regional Victoria.
Bishop Mackinlay said he expected demand to be high for places at services, with three outdoors St Killians' masses of 20 booked out on Sunday.
He said limited numbers were a challenge for the church, when its focus was on inviting and welcoming people.
Bishop Mackinlay said he was pleased by the recognition of the importance of faith for people's wellbeing, and churches' ability to take appropriate precautions.
He said he would inform churches in more detail about what conditions they needed to comply with in the coming days, after the Chief Health Officer had released further directions.
Uniting Church minister Di Esbensen said Sunday's announcement was good, but her churches - St Andrews and Forest Street Uniting churches - would continue meeting via Youtube.
Reverend Esbensen said the Uniting churches and other faith communities were finding ways to make sure their members and those across the community were still getting support.
"We're holding out and waiting till we can all gather, because being a whole community together is really essential for us" she said.
"When the time comes and we can all get back together again, the celebration will be significant.
"Faith communities, our own and others in Bendigo, are being really resilient."
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