ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, MD — Effective Friday at 5 p.m., churches, synagogues, mosques and other houses of worship in Anne Arundel County can increase current limits on attendance. Individual worshippers or families may attend services as long as they practice 6-foot social distancing and wear masks so long as they do not exceed Gov. Larry Hogan’s 50 percent occupancy limit as required by the state executive order.
The announcement comes after Anne Arundel County Executive Pittman’s consultation with health officials, his recovery work group and more than 60 county faith leaders. Pittman signed the executive order Wednesday to implement the policy.
“Nobody cares more about the health and safety of worshippers than their own leaders,” said Pittman in a statement. “The Center for Disease Control has been very cautious about indoor worship and I have been as well. What I learned last Thursday in a Zoom call with 60 pastors, rabbis and imams is that they will do this responsibly and are eager to have guidelines that protect their congregations.”
The reopening of houses of worship comes after Anne Arundel County Department of Health metrics show progress on hospital capacity, PPE, testing and other public health measures on their reopening dashboard.
Details about the houses of worship reopening policy are available on the county’s road to recovery website and include the following measures:
- Maintaining social distancing, including spacing seating to ensure 6 feet in between individuals or households;
- No use of common materials such as hymnals or holy books;
- No activities that promote personal contact, such as hugging, shaking hands, etc.;
- Face coverings should be worn by all congregants, employees and volunteers;
- Frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected frequently;
Outdoor services are also permitted under certain guidelines:
- All seating must be spaced 6 feet apart from each seat or households may sit together separated by other groups by 6 feet;
- If indoor restrooms facilities are to be used, points of access to restroom facilities must be provided;
- Outdoor seating cannot be more than 500 feet away from the restrooms;
- Any tent larger than 200 square feet requires a building permit to ensure safety.