The decision came a day after President Donald Trump declared religious services to be "essential,quot; and called on governors across the country to reopen them this weekend.
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Leaders of the Catholic and Lutheran churches had announced earlier this week that they planned to challenge the closure of Governor Tim Walz's worship services anyway.
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In a call Thursday morning, Archbishop Bernard Hebda said they felt the reopening was "really necessary for the general health of the faith community." A lawsuit was filed to argue that Minnesota churches were being treated unfairly under the executive orders of Governor Tim Walz.
Now, the state will allow the reopening of churches, mosques, synagogues, and other worship centers beginning Wednesday, May 27.
Walz signed an executive order on Saturday that modifies his previous orders: allow safe worship, weddings and funerals.
The order says that places of worship, funeral homes, and wedding venues must:
- Secure six feet of physical distance between homes.
- Stay below 250 people or 25% of normal capacity, either indoors or outdoors.
- Create a COVID-19 readiness plan according to Minnesota Department of Health guidelines.
Walz released this statement on Saturday:
We know that large gatherings of people increase the risk of spreading COVID-19. We also know that worship is an essential part of life for many Minnesotans, including mine. Minnesotans have made great sacrifices to protect their neighbors by staying home. I understand the cost the pandemic has had to the spiritual health of Minnesotans. As the CDC allows the reopening of places of worship, I have partnered with religious leaders to ensure that there are clear public health guidelines for doing so in the safest manner possible. Every step we take carries risks and responsibility for everyone. My family will continue to practice our faith by video at home. I urge all Minnesotans to continue to limit their in-person interactions with people outside of their homes, and I urge Minnesotans at higher risk to stay home. Those who ignore the public health guide endanger not only themselves, but also their families and neighbors.
Archbishop Bernard Hebda, the leader of the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, thanked state leaders for their decision in a three-page letter.
If a parish is not sure it is ready, it should not open. Period. And if the faithful feel safer at home, the obligation to attend mass on Sundays and holidays continues to be waived. Reflecting the current orientation of the CDC, we also strongly recommend that people over 65 or especially vulnerable not attend.