As California’s onerous stay-at-home order is finally lifted ten months after coronavirus lockdowns began, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that bans on indoor worship services could be upheld as long as numerical limits were not imposed in smaller counties with adequate medical resources and restrictions were not more severe than those on other businesses.
Judge Kim Wardlaw, a Bill Clinton appointee, said in the 3-0 opinion that the importance of safety and not overwhelming the already stretched health care resources in the area was greater than the freedom to worship.
“It is difficult to see how allowing more people to congregate indoors will do anything other than lead to more cases, more deaths, and more strains on California’s already overburdened health-care system,” he wrote.
There will now be a tiered system in place for opening in California, but churches are still limited to outdoor worship under the current rules.
The ruling will be appealed to the Supreme Court, which has already struck down several worship bans and restrictions as unconstitutional.
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