HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Hillsborough County has released new guidelines for churches and other places of worship in an effort to limit the spread of coronavirus.
The guidelines come after Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a stay-at-home order instructing Floridians to stay home except to obtain or provide essential services. DeSantis said attending religious services is among the “essential” activities that would be allowed. The governor’s order does not mandate social distancing or limit the number of people who can attend religious services.
Hillsborough County is urging local religious leaders and members of their congregation to practice social distancing and seek alternatives to large-in-person gatherings.
Hillsborough County’s Joint Information Center (JIC) has developed the following gudelines for religious services:
- Houses of worship and religious services are essential to the fabric of every community in Hillsborough County. To promote the safety and well-being of all people, public health experts recommend that all large gatherings, including religious services, be conducted online or through other communication technology whenever possible until the threat of the COVID-19 coronavirus has passed.
- Those who choose to attend religious services in-person should follow the public health and safety guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. This includes providing at least 6 feet of space between attendees and avoiding gathering in groups larger than 10 people. By remaining at home whenever possible, and following the CDC guidelines, you can help stop the spread of the virus among your congregation, your friends, and your neighbors.
- Leave your home only when absolutely necessary, limit gatherings to 10 people, and provide 6 feet of space between individuals.
Earlier this week, Hillsborough authorities arrested a pastor after he held packed services at a Tampa church. He later announced he would shut it down.
More than 400 people in Tampa Bay have tested positive for coronavirus. Five people have died.
For more information on COVID-19, and any other potential emergency in the county, visit HCFLGov.net/StaySafe
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