Governor says church services can resume with up to 10 people or by drive-in at parking lots

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 May 2020 at 5:25 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: First Baptist Church in Albion is pictured on a recent evening.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that beginning Thursday religious gatherings of no more than 10 people will be allowed statewide where strict social distancing measures are enforced and all participants wear masks.

Additionally, drive-in and parking lot services will also be allowed beginning Thursday.

The governor also announced the state is convening an Interfaith Advisory Council to discuss proposals to safely bring back religious services.

“Our interfaith advisory council has representative of the religious community across the state, all different religions,” Cuomo said today at his daily press briefing. “I understand their desire to get back to religious ceremonies as soon as possible. As former altar boy, I get it. I think even at this time of stress and when people are so anxious and so confused, I think those religious ceremonies can be very comforting. But we need to find out how to do it, and do it safely, and do it smartly.”

The governor said churches need to take precautions so Covid-19 doesn’t spread due to a service. Church gatherings have the potential to a “super spreader” where one person could infect dozens of people.

“The last thing we want to do is have a religious ceremony that winds up having more people infected,” he said. “We all want to do the same thing, the question is how do we do it, and how do we do it smartly and efficiently. I will be talking with members of the religious community on doing just that and I’m sure we can come up with a way that does it, but does it intelligently.”

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