California to allow places of worship to reopen, in-store retail shopping to resume
California will allow houses of worship to open for in-person services at reduced capacity and let retailers open for in-store shopping, state officials announced Monday.
Under guidelines announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Monday, churches will be allowed to reopen with approval from county public health officials, but they will be required to keep attendance to either 25 percent capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees.
State and county public health officials will collaborate to assess any increase in deaths or hospitalizations after three weeks of the loosened restrictions.
The Bay Area, however, has yet to lift restrictions on meetings of people from multiple households, including worship services, according to The Mercury News. A spokesperson for the Contra Costa County Public Health Department told the newspaper the county will “continue to abide by the terms of its own shelter-in-place order, currently set to expire June 1.”
President Trump said Friday he was designating all houses of worship nationwide as essential, claiming he would “override the governors” if they did not allow them to reopen.
While several lawsuits have been filed challenging Newsom’s restrictions on in-person religious services, the state’s 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last week found in his favor against San Diego’s South Bay United Pentecostal Church, 2-1.
The rules for retailers, meanwhile, will apply to the entire state. It does not cover hair salons, nail salons or barbershops.
“Together, our actions have helped bend the curve and reduce infections in our state. As sectors continue to open with changes that aim to lower risk, remember that COVID-19 is still present in our communities,” Sonia Angell, director of the California Department of Public Health, said in a statement.
“As more of us may be leaving our homes, keeping physical distance, wearing face coverings in public, and washing your hands frequently are more important than ever to help protect yourself and those around you,” Angell added.