The original item was published from May 29, 2020 4:23 PM to June 4, 2020 2:11 PM
Members of faith communities in Loudoun will find many of their traditions and practices dramatically changed as they resume in-person worship. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the experience of going to church, the synagogue or the mosque will be distinctly different from what it was prior to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
Here’s what you should expect as you return to religious services during Phase 1 of the Forward Virginia Plan:
- There will be fewer people in the congregation. Occupancy is limited to no more than half of the lowest “occupancy load,” or number of people allowed, on the occupancy certificate of the room or facility in which the religious services are conducted.
- Physical distancing will continue to be practiced. Congregants will be seated six feet apart, except family members, as defined in Executive Order 61, who may be seated together. There will be no physical greetings such as handshakes or hugs.
- People attending indoor religious services will be required to wear face coverings. Executive Order 63 requires people to wear face coverings in public indoor settings in Virginia to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
- There will be no passing of items between those who are not family members. There also might not be prayer books or hymnals in the pews. Health officials are discouraging the use of common items that are difficult to clean.
- Religious services may be provided in alternate formats. The faith community is considering alternations to their routines that promote safety and enable people to participate. Changes may include dedicated services for special populations, online and drive-up services, and limits on the musical aspects of services because singing has been noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a concern for spreading the novel coronavirus.
As you consider returning to religious services, contact your house of worship for specific details about how it will safely provide services during this next phase of the pandemic.
Loudoun County reminds everyone that each of us as a part in slowing the spread of COVID-19, including:
- Staying home when sick.
- Avoiding gatherings of people if you are over the age of 65 or have underlying medical conditions that make you more susceptible to COVID-19.
- Wearing a face covering that covers your nose and mouth when around other people.
- Covering your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow, if not wearing a face covering.
- Washing your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
- Cleaning and disinfect high-touch surfaces every day.
More information about the “reopening” in Loudoun County, including links to the Forward Virginia guidance for religious services, is posted online at www.loudoun.gov/reopening.
Loudoun County encourages residents to stay informed about COVID-19.
- Visit loudoun.gov/coronavirus for more information about how to protect yourself and your family and to sign up for email and text updates on COVID-19.
- Text LCCOVID19 to 888777 to receive text alerts from Loudoun County about COVID-19.
- Text LCCOVIDESP to 888777 to receive text messages in Spanish from Loudoun County about COVID-19.
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Residents with questions about COVID-19 may call the Loudoun County Health Department’s information line, 703-737-8300, or send an email