California opens places of worship, in-store retail businesses: health
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[May 26, 2020]
By Rich McKay
(Reuters) - California retail with in-store
shopping and places of worship that were closed under one of the most
restrictive coronavirus containment rules in the United States may now
open, health authorities announced on Monday.
The California Department of Public Health said that businesses and
churches, synagogues, and mosques can reopen at 25 percent occupancy
capacity, and with other restrictions.
The new rules come amid mounting pressure from churches, protests and
even a push from President Donald Trump to reopen houses of worship and
to get to get America back to work.
But under the new rules, business owners and religious leaders have to
wait for approval from county health officials before they open their
doors to the public.
Each building is limited to 25 percent occupancy but is capped at just
100 attendees for church services, regardless of how large the church
is, according to an official release by the state's health department.
People must maintain a 6-foot social-distance from each other to help
stop the virus that causes the deadly respiratory disease COVID-19,
caused by the novel coronavirus.
The global pandemic has killed nearly 100,000 people in the United
Most houses of worship have been broadcasting religious services online
on internet venues such as Facebook and Zoom.
Each store or place of worship must submit a plan to county health
departments to describe what measures they are taking to comply with
state rules before reopening, including specifics on cleaning and social
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All staff and guests are recommended to wear protective face masks
at all times. Church choirs are encouraged to perform only outdoors.
The new rules come three days after Trump announced places of
worship as essential.
Trump also said he would override any governor's order to keep
churches closed, and he said, "America, we need more prayer, not
Pastor Jon Duncan, who leads the church Cross Culture Christian
Center, near Sacramento, California, welcomes the news, with some
The church has been closed for about 9 weeks, and a lawsuit was
filed against the governor stating that the congregation's First
Amendment rights of free assembly and speech were violated.
"Although we welcome today's action our church and places of worship
across California have suffered greatly because our leaders chose to
marginalize and criminalize faith-based gatherings. If we are to
remain free, we must never allow this to happen again."
(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Grant McCool,
Franklin Paul and Diane Craft)
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