Northeast Regional Health Office encourages faith communities to follow Governor’s guidelines

Published 2:15 pm Thursday, May 7, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...
The Northeast Regional Health Office encourages faith communities to follow the Guidance for Gathering Together in Houses of Worship, which was released May 1 by Governor Bill Lee.
The guidance states decisions about when to resume in-person gatherings are serious and should be made by each house of worship and its leadership based on the unique needs of its faith community, and in consideration of preserving and protecting health and safety to the greatest extent practicable.
“These guidelines provide support for the special role of faith-based organizations in COVID-19 education, preparedness and response,” said Northeast Regional Health Director Rebekah English, RN, MPH.
The Guidance for Gathering Together in Houses of Worship provides overall guidelines for faith communities to follow such as taking a phased approach to meeting; filling seating to only 50 percent capacity with six feet between family units; wearing face coverings and educating everyone about new protocols. In addition, there are sections within the guidelines for church leaders about creating and maintaining a safe environment and communicating this to members, preparing the house of worship for potential COVID-19 cases, cleaning and sanitizing the facility, logistics of returning to in-person meetings, worship programming and amenities. Faith-based organizations are encouraged to continue providing online access to services.
Persons attending the service should wear face coverings and social distance by staying 6 feet away from others. Consult the CDC guidelines and guidance from your local health officials to determine the risks of gathering in-person. Leaders should  include thinking about the percentage of your community classified as vulnerable, how conducive your facility is to allowing social distancing, the size of your community, and more.
A phased approach to resuming in-person gatherings is recommended. Vulnerable populations (everyone 65 years and older, people with disabilities, people with serious respiratory or cardiovascular conditions, people who are immunocompromised, and others) and children’s activities/nursery programs should not gather in person until a later time. Consider solutions to minimize close personal contact that may be part of your services, such as handshakes or sharing food and drink.
Also, all high touch surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc., should be cleaned often with disinfectant.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox