NEW CDC GUIDELINES FOR CHURCHES
POSTED BY CNN
POSTED BY CNN
On today, Thursday, 30 April 2020, CNN posted on its website a copy of the new proposal of the Centers for Disease Control guidelines on re-opening areas of life that have been closed in the pandemic. Find the proposal here . We should emphasize this is a draft of the proposal and not the final copy. It has not been approved and released to the public as of this moment. Presumably, it will be announced soon.
Find the directions for "faith communities" on pages 7-9.
Here are the main takeaways as I see them.
---Under the principle of separation of church and state, the state cannot dictate policies and practices internal to churches. This guideline is only a list of suggestions.
---Strong encouragement to continue virtual services indefinitely.
---If churches reopen, in Phase Three, they should practice social distancing and proper disinfecting.
---Solid surfaces should be disinfected frequently.
---Everyone except children under the age of two should wear face masks except under special circumstances.
---Follow the sizes of gatherings as directed by local authorities.
---Seating should be six feet apart except for family groups. May consider seating by every other row.
---"Avoid or consider suspending use of a choir or musical ensemble..." If a choir, should be six feet apart.
---Limit sharing of items commonly shared as hymn books. Use disposable materials.
---Use a stationary collection box.
---When food is served, there should be no buffets or other shared items. Food should be in individual boxes or bags. (This will impact the revered Episcopalian institutions of the coffee hour and covered dish meals.)
I expect this draft will become official and will be released soon. At least we have a heads-up on it.
Church officials should seriously consider these suggestions as they are commonsense guides to lessening the spread of the highly contagious virus. However, if followed to the letter, these suggestions will mean major readjustments in our familiar forms of in-person worship.