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In Mass., Some Religious Leaders Urge Caution When Reopening Churches

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Some religious leaders are urging caution even after Gov. Charlie Baker gave houses of worship the green light to resume in-person services, provided protocols designed to curb the transmission of the coronavirus are followed.

"Churches are designed to be places of healing, not sources of sickness," said the Rev. Laura Everett, executive director of the Massachusetts Council of Churches and the Rev. Jennie Barrett Siegal, the organization's president, in a written statement Monday.

"We receive these new minimum safety standards from the state with much concern for those people most at-risk in our churches and our communities," they said.

The council is a coalition of 18 Protestant and Orthodox denominations.

"Just because congregations may return to their buildings does not mean they should," the council said.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston announced Monday that parishes can resume Mass as of Saturday, but that churches will be limited to 40 percent of their capacity. Parishioners also must maintain social distancing, wear masks and avoid contact.

 Vulnerable people, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, are encouraged to continue watching from home, the church said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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