STATE NEWS: Governor releases updated guidelines for religious services during pandemic

(STAFF REPORTS/Chewelah Independent)

On Thursday, June 18, Washington Governor Jay Inslee released updated health guidelines for religious and faith-based services as more counties have opened up and are allowing church gatherings in small sizes.

Stevens County has been having religious services for weeks now, with many churches observing social distancing and mask guidelines. The Governor’s new guidelines permit 50 percent capacity or 400 people, whichever is less. Health requirements for social distancing and facial coverings will remain the same as the guidance for previous phases.

For services taking place in modified Phase 1 and Phase 2 counties, indoor religious services could occur at 25 percent capacity or 200 people, whichever is less. In health guidance for services taking place in Phase 1 counties, only outdoor services are permitted, with no more than 100 attendees.

Organizations are being strongly encouraged by the state to keep a log of attendees at each service or counseling session, and to retain that log for at least two weeks. If an outbreak occurs, this information may be critical to help save lives, the state says.

Personal protection equipment needs to be provided to employees and volunteers, while both church attendees and people helping with the service must be screened for symptoms and if someone is sick, they are asked to stay home.

You can read the full guidelines here.