COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) — An update to a Colorado public health order will allow churches to be exempt from COVID-19 capacity limits for religious services.
The capacity restriction changes went into effect on Monday evening.
The order deems houses of worship as essential and includes capacity limit exceptions for religious services and ceremonies like weddings, funerals, and baptisms. According to state health officials, the updated public health order still requires any receptions or parties associated with those events to follow indoor and outdoor capacity limits.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) says churches may exceed to recommended capacity caps if they cannot conduct activities within those restrictions. Houses of Worship will still be required to wear masks indoors, social distance and appropriately sanitize. State health officials note that outdoor activities are still preferred to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
A spokesperson said the changes were made to align with recent rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Brady Boyd, the senior pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs said they won’t be making any changes to how they currently conduct services.
“We have not felt in any way persecuted or marginalized during this time,” Boyd said.
Boyd said many who worship at New Life Church have pre-existing conditions and the church plans to follow health officials’ advice.
“We’re grateful that the governor and local officials and even judges have deemed us essential. And for that reason, we want to do everything possible to keep our people safe,” Boyd said.
New Life Church still plans to operate at 20% capacity and will continue online services.
“Mom and pop stores that have been in our city for 50, 60 years right now are struggling to stay open. So, we want to come alongside them in solidarity and not use our newfound freedom to add to the problem. We want to be a church that is helping solve the problem in our city,” Boyd explained.
New Life Church usually draws about 15,000 people for its Christmas Eve service. This year church leaders will stream the service online to prevent the spread of COVID-19.