Guidance issued for churches, houses of worship

Virtual services encouraged; 30 percent occupancy allowed
May 18, 2020

Delaware churches and other houses of worship will be allowed to resume in-person services, but gatherings will be limited under new orders by Gov. John Carney.

Carney issued updated guidance May 18 for churches and houses of worship, created in coordination with Delaware Division of Public Health and the Delaware Council of Faith-Based Partnerships.

Virtual services are encouraged, but the order allows houses of worship to conduct in-person services with restrictions, limited to 30 percent of stated fire code occupancy. Strict social distancing must be maintained. High-risk Delawareans, including those over 65 years of age, and anyone who is sick should not attend in-person services. Anyone 13 years old or older must wear a face covering; children age 2 and younger should not wear a face covering due to risk of suffocation. 

“All of Delaware’s restrictions – including those inside our churches and other houses of worship – are intended to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and save lives,” Carney said. “I know it’s difficult. Practicing your faith is a fundamental right. But Delawareans who are at higher risk should not attend in-person services. Do your best to practice your faith virtually. Wear a cloth face covering if you attend an in-person service. Remain at least 6 feet away from others. Wash or sanitize your hands frequently. Now’s not the time for Delawareans to let up.”

Service or gathering times must be staggered to permit cleaning of public spaces between services, in accordance with guidance from health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Exchange of materials of any kind during services is strongly discouraged. Baptisms, weddings and funerals are permitted if the services follow precautions in the updated guidance.

Under Carney’s stay-at-home order, churches and other houses of worship are essential, but must adhere to basic safety precautions to protect congregants from COVID-19 infection and transmission.

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