Governor Tate Reeves released social distancing and sanitation guidelines Tuesday for in-person worship services to safely resume across Mississippi.
Consulting with Dr. Thomas Dobbs and our state health officials, Governor Reeves developed guidelines for worship leaders and their congregations to join together to practice their faiths while continuing to help protect public health and flatten the curve.
"I’ll just say this as a personal point. My family is likely going to continue worshiping from home for a while. The church is not a building. We can honor our Lord and keep our neighbors safe. You don’t need to rush back. We do want to provide a playbook for how to do it safely, when pastors determine the time is right," said Governor Tate Reeves.
The guidelines include steps to prepare houses of worship, plan for logistics and worship programming, and direct staff and worship leadership on social distancing protocols. You can view the full guidelines for in-person worship services here.
Churches and places of worship were deemed an essential business or operation and were never instructed to close, though they were encouraged to offer services online and remotely to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
“The numbers continue to spike in Mississippi and the rate of death continues,” said Clarkdale Mayor Chuck Espy earlier this month. “The Governor is working very hard to make a decision.
“I’m asking people to use common sense,” said Espy. “If you don’t have to get out, stay at home, shelter in place until a better day.”
Both the City of Clarksdale and Coahoma County issues a shutdown order on March 19 that enforced social distancing, the washing of hands and not allow gatherings of more than 10 people in one location. The city and county's order included gatherings such as weddings, funerals and church gatherings. The city also imposed a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.
Both the city and county have relaxed some of those demands and does allow gatherings of up to 20 people outdoors and the reopening of businesses with strict social distancing and cleaning requirements.
The city and county's order is to remain in effect until Monday, May 25.