Many church services around Whanganui are being held via livestream as New Zealanders are told to stay home in a bid to halt the risk of a community outbreak of Covid-19.

Pastor James Roy, of Equippers Church on Guyton St, said livestreaming of services had been implemented on Sunday.

"We normally get around 200 people on a Sunday, and we've had to work extra hard this week to make sure people stay connected," Roy said.

"We've been hosting smaller gatherings around Whanganui, and there already been around 140 people live streaming our services.

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"It's really a case of physically distancing but socially strengthening.

"This is the time to put our beliefs into action and make sure everyone is okay, especially the elderly and more vulnerable members of the community."

James and Trina Roy, of Equippers Church. Photo / Supplied
James and Trina Roy, of Equippers Church. Photo / Supplied

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Roy said that this was the time to "check over the neighbour's fence and make sure everyone's all right."

"We're getting very good at washing hands, but we need to be able to wash people's feet and serving those around us."

Head priest of the Catholic Church in Whanganui, Vaughan Leslie, said bishops had decreed, before the Covid-19 alert level was raised on Monday, that all masses, functions, and meetings were cancelled for foreseeable future.

Leslie said that the announcement had caused "quite a bit of shock" among parishioners.

"For the sake of fairness, all gatherings have had to be cancelled, even if some masses are smaller than others," Leslie said.

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"We're all in the same boat.

"We are broadcasting a livestream service every day at 9.30am, and we've had over 1000 views on both our online services so far."

Leslie said he said hoped the Whanganui community was taking the Covid-19 threat seriously.

"I'd urge everyone out there to follow the Government's instructions, and stay at home as much as possible.

"It's our responsibility to prevent a community outbreak."

Leslie said funeral services had also been affected.

"Funeral services are to be kept as short as possible, with no eulogies or masses.

"All priests over the age of 70 have already been instructed to stay at home."

Faith City Church pastor Ben Hoyle said people from Australia, Samoa, United States and United Kingdom had tuned in to watch the livestreamed services his church had given.

"We've split our physical services into three," Hoyle said.

"It's essentially based on suburb, and we've had a lot of smaller Bible groups as well."

"We want people to be safe, and to have someone to reach out to."

Hoyle said the members of his church remained "positive about the future".

What you need to know
What you need to know

"I heard a story from a priest in a different church instructing older people in his neighbourhood to tie a handkerchief to their front door if they needed assistance.

"Things like this show just how important it is to look after those in need."

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website