Governor Issues New Executive Order Lifting Cap on In-Person Religious Services
Jennifer Lewerenz | May 23, 2020 AT 2:51 pm
(KNSI) - Just a handful of days after both the Minnesota Catholic Conference and the North and South Districts of the Minnesota Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod sent open letters to Governor Tim Walz saying they were opening regardless of his order keeping in-person religious services capped at ten people, the governor issued an executive order Saturday allowing those services to take place starting May 25th.
In a press release, the governor says, "According to the Executive Order, places of worship, funeral homes, and other venues that offer gathering space for weddings, funerals, and planned services such as worship, rituals, prayer meetings, scripture studies, may host such services with over ten people, provided that they adhere to the below requirements:
· In all settings, ensure a minimum of 6 feet of physical distancing between households.
· In indoor settings, occupancy must not exceed 25 percent of the normal occupant capacity as determined by the fire marshal, with a maximum of 250 people in a single self-contained space.
· In outdoor settings, gatherings must not exceed 250 individuals.
· Develop and implement a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan in accordance with guidance developed by the Minnesota Department of Health and available
Governor Walz added, "I have had many meaningful conversations with faith leaders over the last few weeks. From a personal and public health perspective, the decision around places of worship has been a challenging one since the beginning of the pandemic. We know large gatherings of people raise the risk of spreading COVID-19. We also know worship is an essential part of many Minnesotans' lives, including mine."
"Minnesotans have made great sacrifices to protect their neighbors by staying home," Walz continued. "I understand the toll the pandemic has taken on the spiritual health of Minnesotans. As the CDC allows for places of worship to reopen, I have partnered with faith leaders to ensure there are clear public health guidelines to do so as safely as possible."
"Each step we take brings risk and responsibility for all," Walz continued. "My family will continue to practice our faith via video at home. I urge all Minnesotans to continue to limit their in-person interactions with people outside of their households, and I strongly urge Minnesotans at heightened risk to stay home. Those who disregard public health guidance endanger not only themselves but their families and their neighbors."
The governor said the pot is at a simmer now, and with the new dial turn to turns to a boil, the dials could be moved back, adding that the idea of 250 people gathering together right now, "terrifies me."
Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm clarified the decision to allow 250 people at a ceremony such as a wedding or funeral, she says, it applies to the ceremony itself, not the party afterward and strongly urged people to keep those limits at 50. She also asked that attendants practice social distancing, and that there be no sharing of food or other close contacts.
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