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Reopened churches in California? Smaller affairs with minimal singing.

As it awaits guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Newsom administration released new guidelines for reopening churches on Monday.

There are three key elements of the new guidelines that will drastically change in-person church services in the interim.

First, a limitation on the number of parishioners that can enter a church, synagogue, or mosque to either 25 percent of the building’s capacity or 100 people, whichever is lower.

Second, a strong guidance against singing during services – as mass speaking events can create an “increased likelihood for transmission from contaminated exhaled droplets.”

And third? Stop passing around the collection plate and shift donations to a fixed, easily-sanitized donation box in church sanctuaries.

While Gov. Gavin Newsom has maintained that statewide clearance to reopen houses of worship was part of Phase 3 of his four-phase reopening plan, the guidance places some autonomy in the hands of county public health departments to approve church reopenings within their jurisdiction.

The restrictions on churches under Monday’s guidance would be in place for three weeks following approval from individual county public health officials.

The San Joaquin Valley Sun
Staff reports from The San Joaquin Valley Sun staff.