LAIST | Gina Pollack | May 25, 2020
The California Department of Public Health announced on Memorial Day that churches, temples, mosques and other places of worship have permission to reopen statewide. In-store retail also got the greenlight to reopen, with restrictions.
The new guidelines apply to the entire state, but are subject to approval by each county’s public health department. That means they don’t yet apply to Los Angeles County, although some county supervisors are pushing to open up as soon as possible.
Riverside County has already approved the change, allowing religious services to resume immediately.
“A cornerstone of many religions is to take care of each other. Let’s continue to take care of each other by praying and observing six feet apart,” Riverside County Board of Supervisors Chair Victor Manuel Perez said in a statement.
The news comes just three days after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Gov. Newsom’s ban on in-person church services.
The Governor had said he planned to loosen restrictions on churches and religious gatherings in the coming days, although church services were not initially supposed to resume until the third phase of reopening.
NEW GUIDELINES FOR RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS
Places of worship can now hold religious services and funerals that limit attendance to 25% of a building’s capacity (or up to 100 attendees, whichever is lower). That again, is subject to individual county approval.
According to the guidelines, in order to reopen, places of worship must “establish and implement” a prevention plan for the spread of COVID-19 and train staff on the plan. Religious institutions must also set physical distancing guidelines, and implement strict cleaning and disinfecting protocols.
The guidelines recommend that staff and guests wear face coverings, but don’t require it. They also recommend (but don’t require) church staff to have their temperatures and symptoms checked before they begin their shifts.