Democratic Governor Andy Beshear has laid down the law for any churches wishing to re-open for in-person services on May 20, burdening them with heavy restrictions and saying there will be “a lot of thresholds to meet.”
In guidelines issued by the state, we read that “Places of worship will be expected to meet the same Healthy at Work Minimum Requirements as businesses. In addition, places of worship will be expected to meet the requirements below in order to reopen and remain open.”
- Churches conducting drive-in services must ensure their congregants remain in their vehicles and not socialize through their vehicle windows.
- Churches conducting in-person services must limit attendance to no more than 33% of the building occupancy capacity.
- Maintain social distance between household units of at least six feet in all directions.
- Clergy, staff employees, volunteers and congregants must wear coverings (e.g., cloth mask or bandana) over their mouths and noses while attending services, to the greatest extent possible.
- No youth services, sunday school or childcare services allowed until June 15.
- Avoid congregational or choir singing during services and instead have alternatives to congregational singing, including by playing pre-recorded or live instrumental music (e.g. pianos and guitars – no wind instruments) during services.
- Take congregants’ temperatures and ask about signs of illness before admitting them into the place of worship. If they do take temperatures, they should consider using a non-contact thermometer or thermal imager.
- Display markers and signage in the sanctuary/meeting space to guide social distancing.
- Ensure restrooms are only used by one person at a time/
- Must, to the greatest extent practicable, provide hand sanitizer, handwashing facilities, tissues, and waste baskets in convenient locations.
- Not provide communal food or beverages to clergy, staff employees, volunteers, or congregants.
- Restrict access to common areas, to the greatest extent practicable, such as foyers, lobbies, vending areas, community and multi-purpose rooms, and event spaces.
- Refrain from the practice of handshaking, handholding, or hugging.
- Ensure appropriate signage is posted throughout their facilities to inform clergy, staff-employees, and congregants about good hygiene and new practices.
Kentucky Baptist Convention Executive Director Todd Gray, kowtowing to these restrictions said in a statement, “I am thankful for the hard work of Gov. Beshear and his team of advisors, as well as their outreach to faith leaders in working through the details of this plan,…While Kentucky Baptists are eager to return to in-person worship, they only want to do so in a safe and healthy manner. I believe they will find this plan reasonable, doable, and in the best interests of the health of their congregations.”
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