CNA Staff, Jan 25, 2021 / 14:01 pm America/Denver (CNA).
An appeals court last week ruled for a second time against a California church which challenged the state’s rules barring in-person worship services for much of the state, deciding that a total ban on indoor worship services in most areas of the state is justified to block the spread of coronavirus.
The same court ruled Jan. 25 to prevent the state from enforcing fixed numerical attendance limits in areas where indoor worship is allowed, in favor of limits based on percentage of the house of worship’s capacity.
South Bay United Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista had brought a legal challenge on First Amendment grounds against California’s COVID-19 restrictions, which currently prohibit indoor worship in most areas, while allowing unlimited attendance at outdoor services.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Jan. 22 ruled against the church, affirming a district court’s previous ruling and concluding that “California’s restrictions on indoor worship are narrowly tailored to meet its compelling—and immediate—state interest in stopping the community spread of the deadly coronavirus.”
Under current California rules, indoor worship services are banned in all “purple-tiered” counties; counties deemed to have “widespread” transmission risk based on the number of cases per 100,000 and the average positivity rate.