CALIFORNIA LIFTS LIMITS ON INDOOR WORSHIP SERVICES
California on Monday lifted its limits on indoor worship services in the face of US Supreme Court rulings that struck down the coronavirus public health mandates, Robert Jablon reported for the Associated Press (AP).
However, the state Department of Public Health guidelines still said indoor gatherings were “strongly discouraged” and advised limiting the numbers to 25% of a building’s capacity for the two-highest levels of the state’s four-tier COVID-19 restrictions. The recommended capacity for the two lower levels — or those areas with moderate to minimum spread — is 50% capacity.
“Location and capacity limits on places of worship are not mandatory, but are strongly recommended,” the new guidance stated and said the changes were a response to recent court rulings.
The Center for American Liberty, which had filed a string of lawsuits against Gov. Gavin Newsom on behalf of churches, applauded the move. “Governor Newsom should have done this a long time ago,” said a statement from Harmeet K. Dhillon, the center’s founder.
“For over a year, the state of California has targeted the faith community for discriminatory treatment depriving them of their fundamental right to worship.” State or local restrictions on indoor worship to prevent the spread of COVID-19 had been in place for most of the pandemic.
Most religious organizations had followed the restrictions but some churches fought them on grounds that they violated the constitutional freedom of religious expression.