Religious-Based Organizations

Places of worship are encouraged to continue to offer online platforms for participation in worship but may resume corporate, in-person services if they can comply with the following directives. Effective Date – Monday, May 4, 2020

Phase 1 Guidelines

  • Houses of worship are strongly encouraged to continue to offer online platforms for participation in worship because it is not yet advisable/feasible for all congregants to come for in-person services.
  • Post signs at all building entrances advising congregants not to enter if they have had a fever of 100.4˚F or higher in the past two days, they have cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms typical of COVID-19, or they have had known exposure to someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days.
  • Post signs at all building entrances advising congregants that they may wish to refrain from entering if they are 65 or more years old or have underlying health conditions including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, severe obesity, asthma or immunocompromising conditions, because they are at higher risk for severe illness if infected by COVID-19.
  • Post signs at all building entrances to inform people that no one will be admitted into the building without a face covering and that face coverings must be worn by congregants at all times while indoors. The only exceptions to the wearing of face coverings will be:
    • Worship leaders, only while addressing the congregation
    • Performing singers, only while singing
      • The above individuals must stand at a 12-foot distance from others while speaking or singing without a face covering.
    • All congregants who participate in Holy Communion, only while actually consuming the Elements
    • Face coverings for children under 10 years are optional.
    • Face coverings for children under 2 years old are prohibited by CDC guidelines.
  • Places of worship may make their own decision on whether to allow children under 10 to return to corporate worship during Phase 1, as this may pose some risk of transmission of COVID-19.
  • Provide hand sanitizing stations at all public entrances.
  • Lines or cues for entrance and exit must be marked or monitored for maintaining a distance of six feet between people.
  • Instruct all congregants, staff and volunteers that the strict six-foot physical distancing protocol applies to everyone aside from family groups, both indoors and outdoors. As above, speakers and singers will require additional distance while speaking or singing without face coverings.
  • As much as possible, move “meet and greet” times before and after services outdoors. Because of the indoor face covering requirement, refreshments should be offered outdoors only.
  • Instruct people to refrain from any physical contact with each other outside of family groups — no hand shaking, touching, embracing or reverencing of hands/rings of clergy.
  • Aside from congregant family groups, seating in the sanctuary must follow strict physical distancing protocols with six feet between individuals.
  • Eliminate or alter the use of items that are traditionally touched or handled by many different people. Examples are offering plates, the Torah (touch only by the bearer), holy water stations, shared prayer and song books, and the common cup (chalice) for Holy Communion.
  • Refrain from having people come forward to a common altar rail for Holy Communion, blessing, altar call, etc.
  • Refrain from holding religious education classes for children/youth or offering childcare.
  • Sanitize all high-touch surfaces in the sanctuary and common areas after and between services.