While you can still attend in-person church services in California, you can’t sing.
The state, to curb a rapidly worsening pandemic, has temporarily banned singing and chanting in places of worship.
“Practices and performances present an increased likelihood for transmission of COVID-19 through contaminated exhaled droplets and should occur through alternative methods like internet streaming,” the state’s Department of Public Health announced in an order Wednesday.
The health department had previously only asked places of worship to “strongly consider” halting singing, but an updated guidance document issued Wednesday says they must discontinue all singing and chanting activities, in addition to limiting capacity to 25% or a maximum of 100 guests.
California has had more than 24,000 coronavirus cases. On Tuesday, it announced 6,367 cases, the second highest total for the state since the pandemic began. This has prompted Gov. Gavin Newsom to tighten restrictions.
COVID-19 patients make up for about 30% of all hospitalizations, according to state data.
Singing at services has proven to be one way to spread a virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The agency studied how coronavirus spread from one member to 87% of the singers at a Washington choir practice and said in a report:
“The act of singing, itself, might have contributed to transmission through emission of aerosols, which is affected by loudness of vocalization.”
While the California Department of Public Health strongly recommends places of worship should continue to facilitate remote serves, in-person services are currently permitted in California if proper measures are followed.
Among the existing protocols, all houses of worship are required limit their attendance to 25% of building capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, the order says.
“Places of worship must take reasonable measures to remind congregants and visitors that they must use face coverings and practice physical distancing and should frequently wash their hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, use hand sanitizer, and not touch their face,” the order says.
Offering plates and similar items that move between people at places of worship have also been temporarily discontinued.