No SINGING in church this Easter: Mississippi health officials advise against the’ high-risk activity’ to prevent the spread of COVID-19
- Mississippi State Department of Health issued last-minute advice for services
- Guidelines state choirs should be avoided, and if they are performing they should be small in number, wear masks and be separated by six feet
- Anyone 65 years of age or older should be vaccinated prior to attending in-person worship services
- Using hymn books is acceptable if congregants practice proper hand hygiene
Mississippi churchgoers are being told not to sing during services over the Easter weekend to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In last-minute updated advice issued by Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH), singing at faith-based gatherings and worship services is deemed a ‘high-risk activity’.
The guidelines also states that choirs should be avoided, and if they are performing they should be small in number, all singers should wear masks and they should be separated by six feet.
Although the MSDH notes that the safest options for faith-based gatherings and worship continue to be virtual or outdoor services, congregations will be allowed to meet indoors this Easter.
In-person church services are being allowed in certain states during the Easter weekend but health departments have issued advice and recommndations
State officials advise that everyone 65 years of age or older, or those with high-risk medical conditions, should be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to attending in-person worship services.
They suggest that alternatives to shared cups for communion should be pursued, but the use of hymn books or prayer books is considered acceptable so long as congregants practice proper hand hygiene upon entering.
Additional guidelines advise that congregants should use hand sanitizer prior to or upon entry of the building and should not gather in close groups while entering or exiting the building.
Today MSDH is reported 290 more cases of COVID-19 in Mississippi, with four deaths, bringing the state’s total cases is to 305,991, with 7,055 deaths.
Mississippi announced last month that it was lifting the remaining COVID-19 restrictions, despite the fact that less than the national average of their populations have been fully vaccinated.
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves announced he was rolling back all county mask mandates and opening businesses from March 3, with the exception of maintaining a 50 per cent capacity on indoor arenas and keeping rules in place for K-12 schools.
Churches across the United States are being encouraged to hold services outdoors over the Easter weekend and to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19
Instead of mandates, the state’s executive orders will be replaced by recommendations.
‘Today, I signed what I expect will be one of my last executive orders regarding COVID-19. Our hospitalizations have plummeted, and our case numbers have fallen dramatically as well,’ Reeves said during a press conference.
‘In fact, our case numbers have fallen to the point where no county meets the original criteria for a mask mandate.’
He added: ‘I am replacing our current orders with recommendations.’
People are still being encouraged to wear masks and social distance while businesses will be left to make their own policies about reopening.
Many church services in the United States have been conducted with social distancing measures in place, while congregations are also encouraged to use hand sanitizer
The sudden push to reopen came just hours after CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky warned states not to rush to ease COVID-19 restrictions too quickly, despite the fall in cases and the increased pace of the vaccine rollout.
Shawn Parker, executive director of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board told WLBT that church leaders are being ‘caught in the crossfire of these two sides of the issue’.
He added: ‘A lot of our pastors have have done a lot of funerals in the course of last year from people who have have experienced the worst cases of COVID.
‘And so they understand perhaps better than anybody that this is a serious issue and not to be treated lightly. And I think that all of them are approaching Easter services with that in mind.’