California lifts COVID-19 capacity limits on places of worship after court rulings

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California health officials this week revised the state’s restrictions on church worship during the coronavirus pandemic, downgrading capacity limits from mandates to recommendations.

“In response to recent judicial rulings, effective immediately, location and capacity limits on places of worship are not mandatory but are strongly recommended,” the California Department of Public Health wrote on its COVID-19 webpage Monday evening.

Prior to the change, the state required places of worship to cap attendance at 25% of their normal maximum capacity in counties within the purple and red tiers of California’s reopening framework, and at 50% in orange and yellow tier counties.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday ruled 5-4 against California’s restrictions on in-home prayer meetings. The Supreme Court also ruled in February against the state’s restrictions banning indoor church services in purple-tier counties. Conservative justices in each case noted that the state’s capacity restrictions were stricter on churches than on several types of indoor businesses.

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