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Gov. Inslee eases restrictions on religious gatherings

Gov. Inslee announced new guidelines for religious organizations Wednesday, May 27, 2020. (Facebook screengrab)

While he would prefer services be done remotely or by drive-in, Gov. Inslee is easing restrictions on religious gatherings. However, he is asking religious organizations to follow a set of guidelines for in-person gatherings as part of his Safe Start reopening plan for Washington state.

What’s allowed as counties reopen under Gov. Inslee’s ‘Safe Start’ phases

In Phase 1: Hold outdoor services on the organization’s property (or immediately adjacent property if explicitly permitted by the local jurisdiction) with up to 100 individuals, excluding organization staff.

In Phase 2: Hold indoor services at a place of worship with up to 25% capacity or 50 individuals, whichever is less, (excluding organization staff) and Hold or provide in-home services or counseling inside a person’s residence with up to 5 total individuals (excluding organization staff).

In total, 24 counties in Washington have now moved into the second phase of reopening.

The guidelines apply to all worship services, religious study classes, religious ceremonies, religious holiday celebrations, weddings, and funerals.  The state is encouraging organizations to keep a log of attendees at each event for at least two weeks. The log can be used to contact trace should an outbreak occur. Read the details.

Among typical guidelines for social distancing, capacity, hygiene practices, and screenings, the state is asking that there are no choir performances during a service. Also, there should not be anything consumed or served from a communal container or plate.

“The louder we project our voices, the farther this virus travels,” Inslee said.

The governor said he appreciates the creativity so far as religious organizations congregate.

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