Riverside, San Bernardino counties reopen places of worship after new rules released

FONTANA, Calif. (KABC) — Places of worship in Riverside and San Bernardino counties can now reopen after Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday issued new state guidelines to allow for the reopening of in-person services.

Under the guidelines issued, places of worship must limit attendance to 25% of building capacity or 100 attendees, whichever is lower.

That limitation will be in effect for the first 21 days of each county public health department’s approval of religious services within their jurisdictions, after which the California Department of Public Health will review the limits.

The announcement comes less than two weeks after Riverside County asked to allow in-person worship services to resume.

“This is a significant step in the reopening process and we look forward to working with our places of worship with any assistance they need,” said Fourth District Riverside County Supervisor V. Manuel Perez. “A cornerstone of many religions is to take care of each other. Let’s continue to take care of each other by praying and observing six feet apart.”

On Monday, the public health department released a framework for counties deciding whether to allow churches to restart in-person services.

The guidelines suggest masks should be worn, temperatures taken, and services shortened. Sharing prayer books or prayer rugs or using the collection plate are discouraged in the name of physical distancing. See the full list of new rules here.

Houses of worship in California have been closed since March to prevent large groups of people from gathering in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, in other parts of Southern California, the Diocese of Orange says it plans to resume masses on June 14.

In Los Angeles, some showed up to the Cathedral of our Lady of the Angels in downtown on Sunday and held a rally to call for their home churches to reopen.

In a message to its followers the Archdiocese of Los Angeles says it will remain closed for now and services will continue to be virtual.

Last week, more than 1,200 pastors across California, including in the Southland, signed a letter pledging to resume in-person church services at the end of the month, regardless of restrictions.

*story by ABC 7 Los Angeles