The Knox County government backed off a ban of communion, baptism and Bibles at church services after Gov. Bill Lee said his guidance on houses of worship overruled local decisions.
The Knox County government is one of six counties that can largely set its own rules for reopening.
The county, in saying churches could reopen as of Friday, had determined that activities it ruled were not “core worship” were forbidden for any churches that decided to reopen this weekend, Reformation Charlotte reported. Those non-essential things included groups, classes, youth services, communion, baptism and the Bible. The county recommended against singing as non-essential.
The physical taking of communion/sacrament should not be performed due to the serial breaking of physical distancing across a congregation. Consider guiding parishioners in how to connect with the spiritual aspects of these practices during this phase.
WBIR reported Wednesday that the county’s requirements for churches were overridden by Lee’s Executive Order 30. That order, issued Wednesday, said local governments could not issue rules about places of worship because he was on the verge of issuing statewide church guidelines.
Lee said that while churches are not banned, he still encourages them to meet online for now. His full church guidelines are here.
Even though Knox County missed its chance to regulate churches, their guidance takes on plenty of other organizations and businesses, and could be doing so for some time.
According to their 29-page amended reopening guidance, available here, Knox County is in the “reopening” for the long haul — a minimum of three months, or at least 28 days for each of three phases.
A minimum of 28 days will be spent in each phase regardless of whether the benchmarks are met at an earlier timepoint. The phased reopening is not a return to pre-pandemic normal, and the phased plan presents a pathway for reopening that relies on the Five Core Actions we must all consistently take to reduce the spread of COVID-19. They include physical distancing, wearing cloth face coverings, handwashing, cleaning surfaces, and staying home if you are sick or instructed to isolate/quarantine. We will only be able to safely maintain our reopening efforts if all of us commit to maintaining these Five Core Actions.
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.