Days after President Donald Trump called places of worship “essential,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom released rules allowing churches to reopen.
The new guidelines, released Monday, will allow places of worship to reopen if they receive approval from their county public health officials. If given the OK to hold in-person services, attendance must be limited to either 25% of the building’s capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower.
These restrictions will be in place for at least three weeks. The California Department of Public Health will work with county public health officials to determine next steps.
Newsom faced pressure and lawsuits to reopen churches and other places of worship.
On Friday, Trump said he would “override the governors” who resist reopening religious institutions.
“Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential but have left out churches and other houses of worship,” he said during an appearance in the White House press room. “In America, we need more prayer, not less."
Newsom told The Mercury News he already was figuring out how to allow in-person services when Trump made his comment on Friday.
“It’s so important that folks understand we deeply understand, admire, the faith devotion,” Newsom said, adding later, “We look forward to churches reopening in a safe and responsible manner.”
While churches will be allowed to resume in-person services, it is still “strongly recommended” that places of worship continue to offer virtual options, the governor’s new guidance states.
The rules also ask faith leaders to modify any hand-holding, using a common cup and hugging or kissing to prevent the virus from spreading. They are also being asked to consider holding services outside, shortening services to limit the length of time congregants spend at facilities and close places of worship for visitation outside of scheduled services.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.