After court steps in, county does a 180 and allows churches to partially reopen

In this April 6, 2020 file photo, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, front, celebrates Mass.

By the Daily Post staff

Santa Clara County officials, who had refused to allow churches to reopen for indoor services despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, relented tonight and allowed a partial reopening after receiving an order from the U.S. District Court.

“We are disappointed by the temporary order of the federal district court,” said the county’s top lawyer, James Williams. “Covid-19 continues to pose a serious risk in our community, and unfortunately no court decision can decree otherwise.”

On Friday night, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that under the First Amendment, California had to allow the reopening of its churches despite the concerns of local officials about Covid. But on Saturday, Santa Clara County’s Health Department claimed that the high court’s ruling didn’t apply to the county because they were only banning gatherings in all buildings, not just churches and synagogues.

The county contended its order was “neutral” and didn’t pick on houses of worship. However, critics pointed out that the county was allowing people to gather in large buildings such as those containing Costco, Home Depot and Safeway.

Now under the watchful eye of the federal courts, the county tonight put out a revised statement saying churches can hold indoor services at 20% of their capacity.

However, the county said in its statement that churches must observe social distancing, parishioners are required to wear masks, and chanting and singing are still prohibited.

The county’s order doesn’t say whether masks must remain on the face of a person while receiving the Eucharist in Holy Communion.