Mississippi offers guidance on reopening churches, governor urges them to wait before doing so

Published 2:50 pm Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said Monday afternoon the state is issuing a play book for state pastors to begin developing a plan for reopening in-person services, even as the state reported “quite a large number” of deaths from the prior day.

Reeves said although churches in Mississippi were never officially closed, but that he’d called state pastors to
“do the right thing” and avoid in-person services.

“I’m incredibly proud that you have been patient and you have been smart,” Reeves said, adding that the guidelines would “help these pastors determine how to develop a safe path forward.”

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Reeves said the guidelines would include:

  • Deep cleaning churches
  • Asking churches to consider holding services just for the most vulnerable populations
  • Limiting attendance
  • Replace church choirs with solo performers
  • Avoiding passing offering plates to everyone
  • Closing coffee stations and the like
  • Reeves said that early on in the coronavirus pandemic a number of transmissions came from choirs and that avoiding passing the offering plate just makes common sense, “As every single person touches the offering place, you risk the spread of the virus.”

    Reeves said although the guidelines are pending he encouraged pastors to wait “another week or two,” perhaps through June 1 before reopening.

    Reeves said his family planned to continue worshipping from home rather than attending a church service when available.

    “You don’t have to rush back,” he said. “You can honor our Lord from home.”

    State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs issued a warning Monday that despite some easing of business restrictions, the virus is still circulating in Mississippi.

    “Coronavirus is actively circulating in our communities and everyone is still at risk,” he said. “Most people spreading coronavirus don’t even know they have it. It’s impossible to know for sure if someone you’re around has coronavirus … Social distancing and masks can prevent coronavirus transmission.

    “When you are in public, please always wear a mask,” Dobbs said. “It’s the right thing to do.”