Just when California Churches thought they had the freedom to “Romans 13” their way back into having in-person church services, their hopes of gathering with the brethren for word and sacrament were dashed when Governor Gavin Newsom announced that churches would be shuttered and shut down in order to re-prevent the spread of COVID-19. The order comes on the heels of previous restrictions, which prohibited churches that were gathering in person from singing during worship.
“*Places of worship must therefore discontinue singing and chanting activities and limit indoor attendance to 25% of building capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower.” – California Department of Health. (July 1, 2020). COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Places of Worship and Providers of Religious Services and Cultural Ceremonies. Sacramento, CA. CDOH
The ban also enforces a reclosure on other businesses and services, such as malls, salons, bowling alleys, movie theaters, zoos, museums, and others.
“This virus is not going away anytime soon,” said Governor Newson on Monday, further noting that “we were able to suppress the spread of this virus, we were able to knock down the growth of this in the beginning. We’re going to do that again, there’s no doubt in my mind.”
The news follows the announcement that the state’s two largest school districts, representing 700,000 students, would not be returning to classes in the fall.
We wrote previously back in mid-May that while California churches were ordered close, nearly 3000 of them announced they were defying stay at home orders to have services, which ultimately led Newsom to allow services early.
There is no word yet on whether churches will comply with the new closure orders or whether they will defy the government yet again and insist on having in-person services despite the threat of fines and jail time.