As part of Phase 1 of reopening Washington’s economy, religious services have been allowed to resume in-person, as of Wednesday, May 27.
Religious and faith-based organizations in Phase 1 counties may host up to 100 people for outdoor services. Counties in Phase 2 can host up to 25% of their capacity or 50 individuals, whichever is less, as well as conduct in-home services of five people.
The services covered in the guidelines include all worship services, religious study classes, religious ceremonies, religious holiday celebrations, weddings, and funerals.
All organizations are being strongly encouraged 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,” said a guidance document released by the state.
Religious and faith-based organizations must follow the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries General Requirements and Prevention Ideas for Workplaces and the Washington State Department of Health Workplace and Employer Resources & Recommendations, which includes educating employees about COVID-19, screening employees for symptoms at the start of each shift, maintaining at least a six-foot distance between others, providing personal protective equipment, ensuring frequent handwashing, and establishing a housekeeping schedule to ensure proper sanitization.
“As I have said before, this crisis may affect our ability to physically connect but it should not affect our power to strengthen our emotional connections,” Governor Jay Inslee said during a press conference on Wednesday. “I have been heartened to see the ways religious groups found to not only continue to connect, but to give back and to support their communities in this time of suffering and uncertainty.”