California places of worship to resume in-person services

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Synagogue iStock

New guidelines say places of worship could reopen but attendance must be limited to 25% of building capacity or a maximum of 100 people.

Elad Benari , 26/05/20 02:02

California Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday issued new guidelines for places of worship in the state to begin resuming in-person services amid the coronavirus pandemic, NBC Newsreports.

Newsom’s new guidelines say places of worship could reopen, if local county public health officials approve, but attendance must be limited to 25% of building capacity or a maximum of 100 people, whichever is lower.

The limitations will remain in places for 21 days after approval. After the initial three weeks, the California Department of Public Health will work with county public health officials to review the impact of in-person gatherings at places of worship and provide further direction for future services.

The move comes three days after President Donald Trump called on governors across the country to reopen places of worship and warned that he would override state executives if they don’t comply.

Trump told a press conference on Friday that it was an “injustice” that some governors deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential but not house of worship.

“I call upon governors to allow our churches and places of worship to open right now,” Trump said. “If there’s any question, they’re going to have to call me but they’re not going to be successful in that call.”

Following the President’s press conference, Newsom promised new guidelines were on the way and said he was in communication with faith leaders across the state.

Newsom said he was aggressively working to “put together guidelines that will do justice to people’s health and their fundamental need and desire to practice their faith.”

While the new guidelines allow places of worship to resume in-person activity, it “does not obligate” them to do so and further recommends that places of worship “continue to facilitate remote services.”

“Even with adherence to physical distancing, convening in a congregational setting of multiple different households to practice a personal faith carries a relatively higher risk for widespread transmission of the COVID-19 virus,” Newsom’s guidance states.

In addition to attendance limits, places of worship must train staff and volunteers on prevention and spreading methods, implement disinfection protocols, and recommend that staff and guests wear face coverings.

Congregants engaging in singing, choir, or group recitation “should wear face coverings at all times” and when possible “these activities should be conducted outside with greater than 6-foot distancing.”

California becomes the latest state to allow places of worship to reopen. Last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo permitted the resumption of religious services if limited to 10 or fewer participants with social distancing and masks in place.

Earlier this month, leaders of the Orthodox Union released guidance on reopening synagogues after a webinar with Dr. Anthony Fauci. The organization pointed to outdoor services as a possible first step in resuming prayer but urged caution in considering any resumption of services.

Dr. Fauci told American rabbis during that conference that synagogues in the US may be able to be open for the Jewish High Holy Days in the fall, but only if certain conditions are met in terms of testing, contact tracing and social distancing.

He noted, however, that synagogues would not be able to operate in the same way as prior to the pandemic.

Source: Arutz Sheva

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