Brian Houston said that the Australia Health Service was just being "over cautious" for issuing a health alert on people who visited the Hillsong car park.
Hillsong's Global Senior Pastor described the Australian health service's move as being over-cautious when it included the campus car park on the list of places with COVID-19 health alerts for people who visited the place on the night of Dec. 29. The Hillsong pastor clarified that the megachurch New South Wales campus was closed during the reported time and all the lights were off.
In his Twitter update posted on Jan. 3, Houston clarified that the church was completely shut and that the government was aware that the car park was closed on that night.
The NSW govt issued a health alert for people who visited our Hills campus between 8-8.45pm on 29 December. At that time the church was completely shut and the Christmas lights were switched off after Christmas night. The NSW govt had been made aware of that.
— Brian Houston (@BrianCHouston) January 3, 2021
Houston posted the Twitter update after the NSW Health official Twitter account posted an update alerting people of the new places in Sydney allegedly visited by confirmed cases of COVID-19. The announcement included six specific places of concern. Two among the said places are hotspots. Visiting people were required to get tested and self-isolate until they get a negative test result.
The Hillsong church Hills Campus, listed on the four others, were visiting people were required to monitor themselves for COVID 19 symptoms and immediately get tested once signs begin to show up. Afterward, they are required to isolate themselves until they get a negative test result.
PUBLIC HEALTH ALERT – NEW VENUES
NSW Health has been notified of a number of new venues in Sydney’s west, which have been visited by confirmed cases of COVID-19. pic.twitter.com/ebOjXST45n
— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) January 2, 2021
In a separate post, Eliza Barr, a journalist, expressed concern and said that the Hillsong Christmas light display should not have existed as it gains a lot of attention and draws more crowds which may lead to the spread of the infectious disease.
Houston responded to Barr saying the Christmas light display was admittedly beautiful but was turned off after Christmas day. He clarified that the place was completely empty during the night of Dec. 29, the date specifically alerted by the NSW Health agency.
"It may be unimportant to you but this was a completely empty car park on the 29th with NO Christmas lights," said Houston. "Come on Daily Telegraph You are better than this," he added expressing his disappointment.
Barr answered saying she was not referring to the date specified by the Health service and acknowledged Houston's claims that it was an empty car park on the night of Dec. 29.
"I'm simply acknowledging it drew a crowd prior to that because it's a picturesque display," Barr said.
An NSW Health spokesperson later clarified the matter and said that the information was updated on the website to make things clearer to everyone.
"As the reference to 'campus' was intended to indicate, the venue of concern in this instance is an area of the church precincts, specifically the car park, and not the church itself," the spokesperson said, according to Christian Post.