Welcome Back: Supreme Court Allows Church Services to Resume in California

Guidelines for Places of Worship

The Supreme Court of the United States removed some restrictions on indoor worship in California when it issued an emergency ruling last night (Feb. 5).  While the Court said that California could not prohibit indoor church services, the state could place a restriction of 25 percent of occupancy capacity.  California had been the only state in the Union to not allow indoor worship.

For much of the past year, Californians have been forced to worship outdoors.  With the onset of winter that became more and more difficult.  At the same time, parishes and churches around the United States and the world had demonstrated that worship could be conducted inside safely - using social distancing and mask requirements that have become accepted practice during the pandemics.  Registration for contact tracing and frequent disinfection of pews, door handles, etc. helped make the worship safe.

The 25 percent capacity limit, which the SCOTUS ruling allowed to stand, is the same restrictions mandated in retail locations.  The court allowed the restriction on signing and chanting during worship to stand - acknowledge the danger inherent in the spread of an airborne virus such as COVID-19.

See the official state website for updated guidelines on places of worship.

The ruling also allow counties to continue prohibiting indoor worship as long as the regulation to not impinge on the free exercise clause.  This will undoubtedly result in more confusion and frustration regarding health regulations.

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