New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said this week that churches can begin hosting drive-in worship services as long as they follow “strict social distancing guidelines.” Additionally, houses of worship can hold in-person services as long as they’re limited to 10 people or fewer.
Cuomo made the announcement as part of a press briefing in Albany Wednesday, saying that services could resume on Thursday as long as all participants use masks and follow social distancing rules.
The governor also noted that he is working with the state’s Interfaith Advisory Council to consider gradually reopening larger in-person worship. The announcement comes as different regions across the state are hitting the required benchmarks to begin reopening during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I understand their desire to get back to religious ceremonies as soon as possible,” Cuomo, 62, said.
“As a former altar boy, I get it. I think even at this time of stress when people are so anxious and so confused, I think that religious ceremonies can be very comforting. But we need to find out how to do it, and do it safely, and do it smartly. The last thing we want to do is have a religious ceremony that winds up having more people infected.”
Cuomo stressed that “if people are smart” and responsible, that infection rates will slow.
“It is amazing how effective a mask is,” Cuomo added.
The Rutherford Institute, a civil rights law group, celebrated Cuomo’s announcement, calling it a “victory for common sense.”
“While federal and state governments have adopted specific restrictive measures in an effort to decelerate the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the current public health situation has not resulted in the suspension of fundamental constitutional rights such as religious freedom,” stated Rutherford Institute President John W. Whitehead.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski