California’s Governor Gavin Newsom said on Monday that he’d put more COVID-19 restrictions in place if hospitalizations continued to rise. Newsweek reported that he did so on Thursday. Under new restrictions in certain regions, churches may meet outdoors only. An excerpt:
The governor’s new plan goes into effect for California regions where ICU capacity falls below 15 percent. Residents in those areas will be expected to remain home for three weeks as bars and personal care services close. Restaurants will move to takeout only and retail will operate at 20 percent capacity.
The new restrictions came after the U.S. Supreme Court vacated a district court decision on Thursday against Harvest Rock Baptist Church in Pasadena. The court issued a one-page ruling, with newly appointed Justice Amy Coney Barrett casting the deciding vote. Justice John Roberts voted with the liberal justices.
The justices ordered the lower court to reconsider its decision in light of their ruling against Governor Andrew Cuomo’s COVID-19 restrictions on churches and synagogues. The high court contended that New York’s restrictions on houses of worship were harsher than those on secular establishments.
Houses of worship have filed lawsuits against governments for ordering them to meet outdoors only or limit capacity indoors, while either supporting or ignoring massive anti-police protests.
A New York judge in July chastised Gov. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio for their hypocrisy on the “public safety” issue. They restricted church attendance to slow the spread of the virus but allowed protests. The judge wrote that these officials “could have just as easily discouraged protests, short of condemning their message, in the name of public health and exercised discretion to suspend enforcement for public safety reasons instead of encouraging what they knew was a flagrant disregard of the outdoor limits and social distancing rules. They could have also been silent. But by acting as they did, Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio sent a clear message that mass protests are deserving of preferential treatment.”