SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — New guidelines have been released by California Gov. Gavin Newsom that will allow places of worship to reopen, albeit with restrictions.
The guidelines were released on Monday and stipulate that places of worship can reopen for in-person services as long as they limit their number of congregants to 25 percent of building capacity – with a maximum of 100 attendees at one time.
Worshipers will be required to wear face coverings and offering plates cannot be passed around, under the guidelines. Services will also need to be shortened.
Last week, President Donald Trump demanded that governors allow places of worship to reopen immediately.
More than 1,000 churches throughout California have said they planned to defy the governor’s orders and reopen at the end of the month. While most of the state is now under the expanded second phase of reopening, churches were not slated to be allowed to reopen until phase three.
Still, even with many pushing to reopen, some pastors say they are taking a more cautious approach.
“My responsibility is more so for the protection of the people that I pastor than it is for me to claim my rights,” said Pastor Bryant C. Wyatt.
Pastor Wyatt’s safety plan includes spaces between worshippers, staff wearing face masks and hand sanitizing stations.
“We do have our rights, but within our rights we have to be responsible,” Pastor Wyatt said.
There have already been coronavirus outbreaks linked to church gatherings in California – including 71 members of a church near Rancho Cordova last month. Dozens of people at a Butte County church were also possibly exposed when a person tested positive for coronavirus after a Mother’s Day service.
The state says they will be assessing the impact of the new guidelines three weeks from now to see if any more restrictions are necessary.