CALIFORNIA - The California Department of Public Health has announced the statewide reopening of places of worship and retail stores. As well as new guidelines for in-person protests.
The new guidelines give communities the opportunity to hold religious services and funerals that limit attendance to 25% of a building's capacity - or up to 100 attendees, whichever is lower - upon approval of each county's health departments.
State health officials say while online services are still encouraged, they hope everyone follows the guidelines set in place, like:
- Establish and implement a COVID-19 prevention plan for every location, train staff on the plan, and regularly evaluate workplaces for compliance
- Train employees and volunteers on COVID-19, including how to prevent it from spreading and which underlying health conditions may make individuals more susceptible to contracting the virus
- Implement cleaning and disinfecting protocols
- Set physical distancing guidelines
- Recommend that staff and guests wear cloth face coverings, and screen staff for temperature and symptoms at the beginning of their shifts
- Set parameters around or consider eliminating singing and group recitations. These activities dramatically increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission. For this reason, congregants engaging in singing, particularly in the choir, and group recitation should wear face coverings at all times and when possible, these activities should be conducted outside with greater than 6-foot distancing
In 21 days, state health officials said they will assess and review the impacts of religious services guidelines - allowing for seven days for religious communities to prepare and reopen in addition to a 14-day incubation period - and provide further direction as part of the phased-in restoration of activities.
“Together, our actions have helped bend the curve and reduce infections in our state. As sectors continue to open with changes that aim to lower risk, remember that COVID-19 is still present in our communities,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, State Public Health Officer and Director of the California Department of Public Health.
Retail stores statewide are also allowed to reopen for in-store shopping, subject to approval by county public health departments. Guidelines will be set in place to help reduce the risk for employees and customers. Health officials said this does not include personal services such as hair salons, nail salons and barbershops.
There are also new guidelines for in-person protests and events designed for political expression. Those guidelines limit attendance to 25% of an area's maximum occupancy - or up to 100 attendees.
“As more of us may be leaving our homes, keeping physical distance, wearing face coverings in public, and washing your hands frequently are more important than ever to help protect yourself and those around you,” said Dr. Angell.