Religious institutions remain exempt from COVID-19 prevention guidelines

Religious institutions have been exempt from certain COVID-19 guidelines. Statements by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide these buildings with the right to conduct practices as they wish.


**Coordinating during COVID…** *Gearing up for a Sunday service, Keystone Fellowship churchgoer controls lighting and sound from a remote booth. Religious institutions are able to gather in person in Pennsylvania.* *Photo reprinted with permission from @keystonefellowship on Instagram*

Trying to maintain a balance between COVID-19 safety precautions and first amendment rights, Pennsylvania lawmakers have decided to present religious institutions with exemptions from particular guidelines.
In a statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is stated that new preventative regulations regarding COVID-19 are not meant to infringe upon rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and other governmental policies.
“The federal government may not prescribe standards for interactions of faith communities in houses of worship, and in accordance with the First Amendment, no faith community should be asked to adopt any mitigation strategies that are more stringent than the mitigation strategies asked of similarly situated entities or activities,” the CDC wrote.
Philadelphia official website recommends all patrons wear masks, distance and screen before entering the facility. Along with this, a plastic covering is highly recommended when singing is involved.
Local churches and other religious institutions are holding their worship and faith services in a variety of ways.
According to youth pastor Caleb Vanderstel, CrossPoint Baptist Church in Souderton is open for services.
“The fact that churches and other religious places have a choice on how to handle this [COVID-19] is a good thing,” Vanderstel said. “Here, masks are recommended, but a choice. People should be comfortable in the comfort of their own church.”
According to their official website, local synagogue Tiferes B’Nai Israel is now open for Friday Shabbat services, as well as providing an online option for those unable to attend.
“We have restarted in person Friday Shabbat service on the summer schedule. You are welcome to join us or view on YouTube. TBI has taken precautions and the sanctuary is set up for social distancing. Please note that masks are required,” the website states.