How does this Executive Order apply to places of worship?

Posted by Becca Graham on

Holding in-person services at places of worship is allowed, but services must be held in accordance with strict social distancing protocols. At the beginning of the pandemic, places of worship were asked to move to online or drive-in services to help Georgia flatten
the curve for coronavirus.

The Governor is appreciative of faith leaders taking these measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Although online or drive-in services remain the best way to prevent the spread of the virus, now that we have greater capacity in our healthcare system, the Governor wants to provide places of worship the flexibility to return to in-person services.

Nothing prevents a place of worship from hosting an in-person service, and the state will not stand in the way of these efforts. However, places of worship should maintain strict social distancing if they choose to return to in-person services. Parishioners should maintain at least six feet of distance from those persons that do not cohabitate with them.

All organizations are required to limit gatherings to a size where social distancing may be enforced among all persons. This means in looking at the entire square footage of a gathering space, a place of worship should ensure there is enough room for all persons to have at least six feet between themselves and anyone else if needed.

Best Practices for Religious Services

This list does not cover every scenario. Places of worship and religious institutions need to tailor their guidance to reflect their specific needs and resources.

• Online, call-in, or drive-in services remain the best options to mitigate potential exposure to coronavirus.
• Do not attend religious services if you are not feeling well, have a fever, or have had direct contact with someone who likely has or is confirmed to have COVID-19.
• Throughout the service, maintain at least six feet between the person in front of you, behind you, and each side of you.
• Family members and cohabitating individuals are allowed to sit together.
• Please wear a face mask or cloth covering to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
• Depending on the size of the congregation, additional services may be necessary to achieve at least six feet between non-cohabitating members.
• When members arrive, they should immediately be seated, and once a service ends, rows should be emptied sequentially with everyone immediately going to their vehicles.
• Refrain from using items touched by multiple people unless you can sanitize after each use. For example, in lieu of offering plates, consider using a dropbox.
• If you closed nurseries, childcare, Sunday School classes, or related functions, strongly consider keeping them closed for the foreseeable future.
• Medically fragile and elderly Georgians should continue to shelter in place and utilize remote services instead of in-person services.
• Strongly consider canceling choir and choir practice to prevent the spread of coronavirus.