After being closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, churches – along with retailers and hair salons – can reopen with some restrictions.
Amy Travis, deputy director of the Glenn County Sheriff’s Office – Office of Emergency Services, said one of the main guidelines for churches is limiting capacity to 25 percent or no more than 100 people if the building is large.
Another thing churches should consider, Travis said, is discouraging group singing because it can project particulates. So it’s recommended to either not have live singing or just have a group of singers on stage that are far away from the crowd.
There is also not supposed to be touching – like hand shaking and hugging.
Travis said there should also be hand washing and hygiene stations available.
Isaac Davis, pastor at Harvest Baptist Church in Orland, said they have been hosting outdoor and virtual services.
With the church having a smaller congregation, Davis said it’s a little easier for them to apply social distancing inside the church as well.
On Sunday, they were able to move back inside.
Davis said they are limiting capacity to about 25 for now and are having two services on Sundays – livestreaming is also available for those who would rather stay at home or for those who are feeling ill or showing COVID-19 symptoms.
They will have signs regarding protocols, windows will be open, protocols for cleaning and sanitizing will be in place based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be in place as well.
“I think mostly our people are excited about joining together,” Davis said. “We can do church online but we need to meet together and worship the Lord.”
He said, while they’re able to do indoor services again, they may do outdoor services sometimes so that everyone can join together.
While people aren’t required to wear masks, Davis said facial coverings will be available or people can bring their own if they prefer.
Coulter Conner, pastor of Willows Christian Church, said they hosted an indoor service on Sunday.
Conner said they’ve been having online services through Facebook and YouTube.
They will also be putting guidelines in place – such as social distancing, proper signage and more.
Conner said they are encouraging those who are most at risk, such as the elderly, to continue watching services online if they feel unsafe as they will continue to do online services.
It’s also asked that those who are feeling ill or show COVID-19 symptoms remain at home.
“We’re wanting to balance (reopening and safety) ... and want to meet as a body of Christ,” Conner said.