- As California continues to battle a spike in coronavirus cases, the state's Department of Public Health has banned people from singing or chanting in places of worship.
- California was praised for its successful early response, but the state has recently experienced record-highs in new cases.
- On May 25, the state started to allow churches to reopen with safety guidelines. This week, it updated its guidelines to advise against singing.
- There is an increased likelihood of transmission from droplets contaminated with the coronavirus during singing and chanting, the department said.
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As California continues to battle a surge of coronavirus cases, the state is allowing places of worship to stay open — but those who attend religious services are banned from singing or chanting, according to state guidelines that were updated on Wednesday.
Convening in a congregational setting carried a "relatively higher risk" for COVID-19 transmission, according to the Department of Public Health.
"In particular, activities such as singing and chanting negate the risk reduction achieved through six feet of physical distancing," the guidelines released Wednesday said. "Places of worship must therefore discontinue singing and chanting activities and limit indoor attendance to 25% of building capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower."
California was initially praised for its successful early response to the coronavirus. As the virus started to spread in the state, places of worship were closed. After improved infection rates, the state announced on May 25 that congregations could reopen if they met safety guidelines.
At the time, those guidelines included setting parameters around singing and group recitations, including requiring choir members to wear face masks at all times. The state also recommended the activities be held outside, or that clergy consider eliminating them altogether.
In the last two weeks; however, there has been a resurgence in coronavirus infections.
The state reached a record number of new cases in a single day — more than 7,000 — on June 23, according to government data. As of Friday, there have been 6,265 deaths in the state, according to Johns Hopkins University.
In response to this uptick, the Department of Public Health revised its guidance for places of worship. The move came the same day California reversed its plan to reopen businesses by calling on over a dozen counties to halt indoor dining; and close movie theaters, museums, and other venues, the Sacramento Bee reported.
The Capital Christian Center, which can seat up to 4,000 people, told the Sacramento Bee that it would follow the new guidelines.
"We recognize that singing is a challenge," Jason Batt, the church's chief operating officer, told the newspaper.
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