Christmas celebrations will be allowed in churches, following Supreme Court action in other cases.
Catholics and other Christians in the Los Angeles area received an early Christmas gift, when it was announced that a five-month ban on indoor worship will be lifted.
Churches in Los Angeles County will be allowed to reopen for indoor services for the first time since July under modified COVID-19 safety guidelines announced Saturday, according to Angelus News, a website of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Los Angeles County said it was updating its guidelines to “align with recent Supreme Court rulings for places of worship.”
The U.S. Supreme Court in late November issued a 5-4 ruling striking down size limitations that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo imposed on houses of worship. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court ordered California courts to block stringent restrictions on houses of worship. Then, the court reversed lower court rulings that upheld Colorado state restrictions on attendance at churches in areas of high risk of COVID-19 infections.
In Los Angeles, the new public health officer’s order does not limit attendance to a certain number or percentage of people, but does mandate that religious worship attendance “not exceed the number of people who can be accommodated while maintaining a physical distance of six feet between separate households.”
Nevertheless, it “strongly recommends” that places of worship continue outdoor services amid the county’s “unprecedented surge of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths” this month.
“Every effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to congregants and to the entire community is critical,” the order said.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles issues a statement Sunday saying, “We are grateful that the county has recognized the importance of worship services and the efforts to ensure that our parishioners can worship safely at our parishes. We are currently evaluating the update and will provide additional guidance in the coming days.”