Last Wednesday, the California Department of Public Health banned “singing and chanting” in houses of worship, including churches, mosques, and synagogues. While the department had previously advised against singing in houses of worship, it made the ban mandatory last week.
“Even with adherence to physical distancing, convening in a congregational setting of multiple different households to practice a personal faith carries a relatively higher risk for widespread transmission of the COVID-19 virus, and may result in increased rates of infection, hospitalization, and death, especially among more vulnerable populations. In particular, activities such as singing and chanting negate the risk- reduction achieved through six feet of physical distancing,” the order states.
“Places of worship must therefore discontinue singing and chanting activities and limit indoor attendance to 25% of building capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower,” the health department adds.
Specifically, the order demands that churches “discontinue singing (in rehearsals, services, etc.), chanting, and other practices and performances where there is increased likelihood for transmission from contaminated exhaled droplets. Consider practicing these activities through alternative methods (such as internet streaming) that ensure individual congregation members perform these activities separately in their own homes.”