State's next step toward in-person worship

Delaware News Desk
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times

Gov. John Carney on Monday issued updated guidance for churches and other houses of worship in Delaware. The guidance was created in coordination with the Division of Public Health and the Delaware Council of Faith-Based Partnerships.

It encourages virtual services but expands the ability for churches and other houses of worship to conduct in-person services with restrictions.

Gatherings must be limited to 30 percent of stated fire code occupancy. Strict social distancing must be maintained. High-risk Delawareans, including those over 65 years old, and anyone who is sick, should not attend in-person services. Anyone 13 years old or older must wear a face covering. Children 2 and younger should not wear a face covering due to risk of suffocation.

Service or gathering times must be staggered to permit cleaning of public spaces between services, in accordance with guidance from DPH 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 can follow precautions in the updated guidance.

“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,” said Gov. Carney. “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 six feet away from others. Wash or sanitize your hands frequently. Now’s not the time for Delawareans to let up.”

Under Gov. 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.