CALIFORNIA—On Monday May 25, the state of California released new guidelines for in-person worship services following the Trump Administration’s approval of letting places of worship re-open.

Last week, President Donald Trump declared churches and other places of worship as “essential”, and instructed governors across the country to allow them to reopen. 

According to the Government of California, some of the new guidelines for places of worship include:

  • Screening staff with temperature checks before their shifts.
  • Discontinuing self-service food and beverages during receptions. If food and beverages are to be served, they must be served in single-serve, disposable containers. 
  • Employees or volunteers handling food should wash hands frequently, wear gloves and masks, and maintain social distancing protocols.
  • Strongly consider discontinuing the practice of singing, group recitation, and other oral performances and rituals, as there is increased risk of transmission. If these practices cannot be discontinued, it is advised to modify them, such as limiting the number of people reciting/singing, maintaining at least 6 ft. physical distance, and/or opt to continue these practices outside.
  • Modifying close-contact practices that are particular to faith traditions, but may increase the spread of COVID-19. Examples include avoiding the kissing of sacred or ritual objects, avoiding the sharing of items like cushions and books, limiting the amount of people who perform rites, avoiding the use of a common cup, offering communion in the hand instead of on the tongue, etc.
  • Using disposable seat covers that should be discarded between services
  • Rearranging seats and podiums so that they are 6 ft apart from each other.
  • Disinfecting high traffic areas, as well as microphones and other instruments that come in close contact.

The list of guidelines also includes protocols for funerals, which include:

  • Reducing visitor capacity
  • Implementing staggered visitation times at funerals
  • Following strict protocols around cleaning and disinfection measures
  • Maintaining physical distance
  • Modifying religious or cultural practices surrounding the handling of bodies.

These guidelines are in addition to the standard prevention measures; frequent hand-washing, face masks and social distancing measures will still remain in place.

“We look forward to churches reopening in a safe manner,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom in a public statement on Friday.

To view the full list of new guidelines, you can click here