[ST. PAUL, MN] – A day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance allowing for reopening places of worship, Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan Saturday announced they have partnered with Minnesota faith leaders on a plan for places of worship who decide to open to do so as safely as possible. Through consultation with Minnesota faith leaders, the Minnesota Department of Health has developed additional guidance for faith-based communities, places of worship, and services. Starting May 27, places of worship may open at 25 percent occupancy if they adhere to social distancing and other public health guidelines to keep congregants safe.
“I have had many meaningful conversations with faith leaders over the last few weeks,” Governor Walz said. “From a personal and public health perspective, the decision around places of worship has been a challenging one since the beginning of the pandemic. We know large gatherings of people raise the risk of spreading COVID-19. We also know worship is an essential part of many Minnesotans’ lives, including mine.”
“Minnesotans have made great sacrifices to protect their neighbors by staying home,” Walz continued. “I understand the toll the pandemic has taken on the spiritual health of Minnesotans. As the CDC allows for places of worship to reopen, I have partnered with faith leaders to ensure there are clear public health guidelines to do so as safely as possible.”
“Each step we take brings risk and responsibility for all,” Walz continued. “My family will continue to practice our faith via video at home. I urge all Minnesotans to continue to limit their in-person interactions with people outside of their households, and I strongly urge Minnesotans at heightened risk to stay home. Those who disregard public health guidance endanger not only themselves, but their families and their neighbors.”
To update this guidance, the Governor today signed Executive Order 20-62 amending his previous orders to allow for safe worship, weddings, and funerals.
According to the Executive Order, places of worship, funeral homes, and other venues that offer gathering space for weddings, funerals, and planned services such as worship, rituals, prayer meetings, scripture studies, may host such services with over 10 people, provided that they adhere to the below requirements:
· In all settings, ensure a minimum of 6 feet of physical distancing between households.
· In indoor settings, occupancy must not exceed 25 percent of the normal occupant capacity as determined by the fire marshal, with a maximum of 250 people in a single self-contained space.
· In outdoor settings, gatherings must not exceed 250 individuals.
· Develop and implement a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan in accordance with guidance developed by the Minnesota Department of Health and available at https://mn.gov/deed/guidance