But there are limits for the number of people who can attend
California churches can resume in-person services but worshippers will be limited to 100 people and they should wear masks, avoid sharing prayer books and skip the collection plate under state guidelines released Monday.
The California Department of Public Health released a framework under which county health departments can approve the reopening of churches, mosques, synagogues and other houses of worship that have mostly shuttered their doors since Gov. Gavin Newsom’s March stay-at-home order designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The state issued a dozen pages of rules and suggestions for resuming religious services. Among them:
•Limit attendance to 25% of building capacity or a maximum of 100 people. The limits will be in effect for the first 21 days of a county public health department’s approval of religious services. After three weeks, the California Department of Public Health will review the impact and provide further direction as part of a phased-in restoration of activities in places of worship.
•Consider limiting seating to alternate rows. Members of the same household may be seated together but should maintain at least six feet from other households.
•Congregants and visitors should use face coverings and practice physical distancing whenever possible. Children under 2 should not wear face coverings, in accordance with federal guidelines.
•Disinfect microphones and stands, music stands, instruments and other items on pulpits and podiums between each use.
•Consider using disposable seat covers, particularly if a facility has multiple daily services. Provide disposable or washable covers on pillows used as seating on floors and change/wash them after each use. Wash religious garments and linens after each service or event.
•Discontinue passing offering plates and similar items that move between people.
•Mark walking paths between spaces designated for congregants to sit/kneel so that people do not walk where someone may touch their head to the floor.
•Children should remain in the care of their household unit and not interact with other children. Close play areas and discontinue activities and services for children where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
•Consider limiting touching for religious and/or cultural purposes, such as holding hands, to members of the same household.
• Strongly consider discontinuing singing, group recitation, and other practices and performances where there is increased likelihood for transmission from contaminated exhaled droplets. Modify practices such as limiting the number people reciting or singing, ensuring physical distancing greater than six feet between people, or opt to celebrate these practices outside with physical distancing.
• Consider modifying practices that are specific to particular faith traditions that might encourage the spread of COVID-19. Examples are discontinuing kissing of ritual objects, allowing rites to be performed by fewer people, avoiding the use of a common cup, offering communion in the hand instead of on the tongue, providing pre-packed communion items on chairs prior to service.