A new executive order from Gov. Tim Walz permits faith-based gatherings at 25% church capacity, with a total limit of 250 people, beginning May 27. The Minnesota governor announced the new order May 23.
The new order follows two days of meetings with Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis and other faith leaders, after Minnesota Catholic bishops announced May 20 that they planned to move forward with Masses at 30 percent capacity, despite the governor’s limitations at that time of public worship to 10 people indoors or outdoors because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bishops said they find the new guidance reasonable and have modified their plans to align with the 25 percent of capacity now allowed. In addition to slightly lowering capacity limits, they also were waiting to resume public worship May 27 instead of May 26, as they initially planned.
“Out of the discussion, we certainly always recognize legitimate authority and reasonable regulation, and while recognizing that it’s our responsibility to determine how it is that we regulate the liturgy, we think that’s a very reasonable regulation given the state of COVID-19 in our state,” Hebda told The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
In a May 23 letter to the faithful stating that the bishops welcome the new executive order, Hebda emphasized that resuming public worship is optional, and parishes should not reopen for worship unless they feel comfortable doing so, and are ready to meet safety and public distancing guidelines.
To resume public worships, parishes must adhere to strict health and safety procedures, including social distancing, he said.
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