FORT WORTH, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Though not advised, houses of worship in Fort Worth may again hold in-person services.
Effective at midnight, the city’s emergency coronavirus declaration will comply with Gov. Greg Abbott’s state-wide edict.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price issued the new order this week.
“While the City’s order has been updated to comply with the Governor’s latest order, it is important to remember that Fort Worth is still seeing substantial community spread of the virus,” said Mayor Betsy Price. “As such, we are continuing to encourage places of worship to hold services remotely when possible. I am proud of Fort Worth’s vibrant faith community, and I am confident that our faith leaders will do what is right for their respective congregations.”
By executive order, the Governor defined essential services on April 17, to include “religious services conducted in churches, congregations, and houses of worship.”
While local governments may not order houses of worship to close, religious services, regardless of religion, conducted in churches, congregations, or other houses of worship should be conducted in accordance with the Revised Guidelines for Houses of Worship During the COVID-19 Crisis.
These measures include:
· Instruct sick employees, volunteers, and guests to stay home;
· Practice social distancing by maintaining appropriate distance between people;
· Maintain good hygiene by washing your hands frequently, using hand sanitizer, using your elbow to cover coughs, and not touching your face;
· Implement environmental cleanliness and sanitization practices; and
· Clean and disinfect work areas frequently.
If houses of worship are unable to meet remotely, they are strongly encouraged to consider implementing the suggested practices outlined in the Revised Guidelines for Houses of Worship During the COVID-19 Crisis.
The document includes suggestions on family unit seating, the use of gloves and masks, and potential “senior services.”
Based on the level of substantial community spread of the virus, as determined by the Tarrant County Public Health Department, the City is strongly recommending that all religious services continue to be provided remotely, including outdoor drive-up services where individuals remain in their vehicles.