DENVER, Colorado — President Trump says churches and other houses of worship should be considered essential and allowed to open during the coronavirus pandemic.
During an abrupt White House press briefing Friday afternoon, he announced that governors should let places of worship to open "right now," because the country needs more prayer.
A spokesperson for Gov. Jared Polis' (D-Colorado) office released a statement Friday night that reads:
“Under Safer At Home, Colorado’s churches and places of worship are already successfully operating safely in-person and virtually. The Governor has been engaged with the faith community throughout this pandemic. The Governor spoke with Archbishop Aquila earlier this week and thanked him for the continuing dispensation from receiving communion as well as the precautions they have taken about resuming in-person communion. He rejoices that Coloradans celebrate our faith, and limited in-person religious gathering will continue to be conducted in as safe a way as possible while honoring the sanctity of life for parishioners by following state and local health orders as well as the important guidance that the faith community is putting together with health officials. The Governor celebrates that for many Coloradans, our faith and spiritual community are critical to our well-being, especially in a time of crisis. The Governor continues to join leaders of all faiths in urging individuals over age 65 to remain at home whenever possible and enforce social distancing and safety protocols consistent with state law and health guidance at religious observances that occur during this global pandemic.”
Under Polis’ safer-at-home order, churches are allowed to stay open, though they are encouraged to conduct services electronically when possible. Smaller, more frequent services with 10 or fewer people (and six feet in between non-related parties) are encouraged as well.
The Archdiocese of Denver announced that it was resuming limited mass on May 10, but with caveats.
“A dispensation from the Sunday and Holy Day obligation to participate in Mass remains in place for all Catholics in the Archdiocese of Denver until further notice,” their website reads.
Not all churches in the state have already reopened under the safer-at-home order. Reverend Dr. Eugene Downing with New Hope Baptist church said at this point it’s too soon, and services will continue via YouTube and Zoom.
Other places of worship are also still suspending services for the time being. According to Chabad of Colorado’s website, in-person synagogue services have been canceled.
The Colorado Muslim Society posted on its Facebook page that mosques will also be closed for in-person services.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had prepared a draft of reopening guidelines for churches and other houses of worship weeks ago that included measures like maintaining distance between parishioners and limiting the size of gatherings.
But that guidance had been delayed for more than a month by the administration until Trump abruptly reversed course Thursday.
Following Trump's announcement, the CDC released new guidelines for communities of faith on how to safely reopen, including recommendations to limit the size of gatherings and consider holding services outdoors or in large, well-ventilated areas.
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