SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – California officials on Monday released its updated guidance for reopening churches, mosques, synagogues, and other places of worship during the coronavirus pandemic.
California says churches can resume in-person services but the congregations will be limited to less than 100 and worshippers should wear masks, avoid sharing prayer books and skip the collection plate.
The state Department of Public Health released a framework Monday for county health officials to permit houses of worship to reopen.
Most have been limited to online and remote services since March, when Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order took effect to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
With progress being made, Newsom has been relaxing those restrictions for restaurants, stores and other businesses.
Several thousand churches had vowed to defy Newsom’s order on May 31, which is Pentacost Sunday, a major holiday for many Christians.
Also among the new guidelines are both staff and visitor temperature checks, frequently disinfecting high-traffic areas such as pews and lobbies, and discouraging the use of shared items such as prayer books and cushions.
Other requirements like shortening services to minimize the amount of time people are gathering at one time and re-arranging seating areas to accommodate for 6 feet of space between people are mentioned.
Officials said while the guidelines are a step toward taking precautions to resume indoor services, remote, online options are encouraged, as well as continuing any outdoor meetings.
Last week, President Donald Trump deemed churches and other houses of worship “essential” and called on governors across the country to allow them to reopen immediately, saying if governors did not follow his order to reopen, he would “override” them.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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