No SINGING in Church this Easter: Mississippi health officials advise against the “ risky activity ” to prevent the spread of COVID-19
- Mississippi State Department of Health issued last-minute advice for services
- State choir guidelines should be avoided, and if they do occur, they should be few in number, wear masks, and stand six feet away
- Anyone 65 or older must be vaccinated before attending personal worship services
- The use of hymnals is acceptable if members of the congregation practice proper hand hygiene
Churchgoers in Mississippi are told not to sing during Easter weekend services to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In last-minute advice from the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH), singing at faith-based gatherings and worship services is considered a “risky activity.”
The guidelines also state that choirs should be avoided, and if they do occur, they should be few in number, all singers should wear masks, and they should be six feet apart.
While the MSDH notes that the safest options for faith-based gatherings and worship remain virtual or field services, congregations will be allowed to meet indoors this Easter.
Personal church services are allowed in certain states over Easter weekend, but health departments have issued advice and recommendations
State officials recommend that anyone 65 or older, or those with high-risk medical conditions, should be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before attending personal worship services.
They suggest that alternatives to shared cups for communion should be pursued, but the use of hymn books or prayer books is considered acceptable as long as congregation members practice proper hand hygiene upon entry.
Additional guidelines recommend that congregation members should use hand sanitizer before or when entering the building and should not congregate in close-knit groups when entering or exiting the building.
Today, MSDH is reporting 290 more cases of COVID-19 in Mississippi, with four deaths, bringing the state’s total number of cases to 305,991, with 7,055 deaths.
Mississippi announced last month that it is lifting remaining COVID-19 restrictions, despite having less than the national average of their populations fully vaccinated.
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves announced that starting March 3, he would be reversing all county mask mandates and opening businesses, with the exception of maintaining a 50 percent capacity in indoor arenas and enforcing elementary school rules.
Churches in the United States are encouraged to keep out of services and wear masks over Easter weekend to prevent the spread of COVID-19
Instead of mandates, the implementing orders of the state will be replaced by recommendations.
Today I signed what is expected to be one of my last implementing orders regarding COVID-19. Our hospital admissions have fallen sharply and our number of cases has also fallen dramatically, ” Reeves said at a news conference.
“In fact, our case numbers have fallen to the point where no province meets the original criteria for a mask mandate.”
He added, “I am replacing our current orders with recommendations.”
People are still encouraged to wear masks and social distance, while companies have to make their own reopening policies.
Many church services in the United States have been conducted with social distance measures, while congregations are also encouraged to use hand sanitizer
The sudden pressure to reopen came just hours after CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky had warned states not to rush to relax COVID-19 restrictions too soon, despite the drop in the number of cases and the increased pace of vaccine rollout.
Shawn Parker, executive director of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, told me WLBT that church leaders are “caught in the crossfire of these two sides of the issue.”
He added: “Many of our predecessors have done many funerals over the course of last year for people who have experienced the worst cases of COVID.
And so they understand perhaps better than anyone that this is a serious problem and should not be treated lightly. And I think they all approach Easter services with that in mind. ‘