The State of California has banned singing in any indoor religious services, even with masks on, under new guidelines issued by the Department of Public Health to control the spread of the coronavirus.
The new guidelines state (emphasis added):
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.
*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. Local Health Officers are advised to consider appropriate limitations on outdoor attendance capacities, factoring their jurisdiction’s key COVID- 19 health indicators. At a minimum, outdoor attendance should be limited naturally through implementation of strict physical distancing measures of a minimum of six feet between attendees from different households, in addition to other relevant protocols within this document.
California had begun re-opening places of worship a few weeks ago, as the state had succeeded in slowing the spread of the disease. But a surge of cases since early June — coinciding with the eruption of the Black Lives Matter protests — has caused the state to reinstate many restrictions.
In early June, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal by a California church that had challenged Gov. Gavin Newsom’s guidelines restricting church attendance to 25% of capacity.
In March, a choir practice — without masks — was blamed for an acute outbreak of coronavirus in Washington State.