As with all churches in the Commonwealth of Virginia, in March, Alfred Street Baptist Church took precautionary measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in their communities. All physical worship services, prayer worship, Bible studies, small group studies, and meetings continued online.
Today, Senior Pastor Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley & church leaders announced the church may re-open under the Forward Virginia guidelines on July 5, 2020. Church leaders say this date may change and that safety of their parishioners remain their top priority.
The mandatory guidelines for a church to re-open in Virginia are:
- Occupancy shall be limited to no more than 50% of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy of the room or facility in which the religious services are conducted.
- Individuals attending religious services must be seated at least six feet apart at all times and must practice physical distancing at all times. Family members, as defined in Executive Order 61, Order of Public Health Emergency Three, may be seated together. Mark seating in six-foot increments.
- It is recommended that persons attending religious services be encouraged to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth at all times (See CDC Use of Cloth Face Coverings guidance for more detailed information.).
- No items must be passed to or between attendees who are not family members as defined in EO 61, Order of Public Health Emergency Three.
- Any items used to distribute food or beverages must be disposable and used only once and discarded.
- A thorough cleaning and disinfection of frequently contacted surfaces must be conducted prior to and following any religious services.
- Post signage at the entrance that states that no one with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19, or known exposure to a COVID-19 case in the prior 14 days, is permitted in the establishment.
- Post signage to provide public health reminders regarding social distancing, gatherings, options for high risk individuals, and staying home if sick (samples at the bottom of this document).
- If any place of worship cannot adhere to the above requirements, it must not conduct in-person services. Other suggested guidance for faith communities and funeral directors can be found below.