A draft of guidelines the White House is preparing to issue about steps to take in reopening parts of the US that had been closed during the pandemic includes suggestions for reopening houses of worship.
The section on faith communities says they “may consider and accept or reject” the guidelines, “consistent with their own faith tradition.”
A copy of the 17-page draft, based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and published on 27th April by The Washington Post, says faith communities should consider limiting their public gatherings in the first phase of reopening and offer means of virtual participation for those in vulnerable conditions.
In all the gradual stages of reopening, the draft of the report recommends that faith communities consider temporarily limiting the sharing of hymnals or other worship materials and consider using a collection box in one place instead of passing collection baskets. It also suggests not having choir or music groups during services at this time or at least limiting the number of choir members and keeping them at least six feet apart.
In all phases of reopening, the report urges people to continue good hygiene practices and make sure that everyone over the age of two wear cloth face coverings at all gatherings and keeping social distancing when inside, apart from those who live in the same household.
The guidance also says all buildings should be checked for proper ventilation systems and circulation of air with open windows or fans.
The White House is expected to make these guidelines public in early May.
Picture: The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington is seen in Washington on 9th April 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic. Houses of worship are included in a draft of the White House’s reopening guidelines. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn).