Counties statewide allowed to reopen retail stores and places of worship for religious services

The statewide reopening of places of worship for religious services and in-store retail shopping was announced by The California Department of Public Health on Monday, May 25 according to a press release.

The reopening will be subject to approval from county public health departments.

The press release states that if approved, previously issued guidelines will apply to retail stores reopening for in-store shopping and under the new guidance, places of worship will be able to hold religious services and funerals that limit attendance to 25% of a building’s capacity or up to 100 people, whichever is lower.

Although most large gatherings are still prohibited under California’s stay-at-home order, new guidelines for in-person protesting and other events intended for political expression were released by the Department of Public Health. The guidelines state that attendance is limited to 25% of an area’s maximum occupancy or up to 100 attendees.

“Together, our actions have helped bend the curve and reduce infections in our state,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, State Public Health Officer and Director of the California Department of Public Health. “As sectors continue to open with changes that aim to lower risk, remember that COVID-19 is still present in our communities. As more of us may be leaving our homes, keeping physical distance, wearing face coverings in public, and washing your hands frequently are more important than ever to help protect yourself and those around you.”

The new guidance for religious services and cultural ceremonies continues to encourage the use of online services and activities in order to protect those who are most at risk.

In order for religious services and funerals to reopen the following must be followed:

-Establish and implement a COVID-19 prevention plan for every location, train staff on the plan, and regularly evaluate workplaces for compliance.

– Train employees and volunteers on COVID-19, including how to prevent it from spreading and which underlying health conditions may make individuals more susceptible to contracting the virus.

– Implement cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

-Set physical distancing guidelines.

– Recommend that staff and guests wear cloth face coverings, and screen staff for temperature and symptoms at the beginning of their shifts.

– Set parameters around or consider eliminating singing and group recitations. These activities dramatically increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission. For this reason, congregants engaging in singing, particularly in the choir, and group recitation should wear face coverings at all times and when possible, these activities should be conducted outside with greater than 6-foot distancing.

According to the press release, the existing guidelines for retailers allowed for certain counties approved to proceed in the reopening process, this now applies statewide. Retail can now open for in-store shopping statewide. This does not include personal services like hair salons, nail salons and barbershops.

This set of guidelines helps in reducing the risk for employees and customers.

The Department of Public Health, in discussion with local departments of public health, will review and evaluate the effect of the religious service’s guidelines and will provide additional direction in 21 days as part of the phased-in restoration of activities.

The press release states, “This 21-day interval accounts for seven days for religious communities to prepare and reopen in addition to a 14-day incubation period of COVID-19.”

More information about the state’s COVID-19 guidance is on the California Department of Public Health’s Guidance web page.​​​

More information about reopening California and what individuals can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is available at


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