CNA Staff, Dec 17, 2020 / 11:30 am America/Denver (CNA).
The District of Columbia has changed course and will now allow up to 250 people to attend religious services. The previous limit was 50, which was challenged in court by the Archdiocese of Washington.
“In order to resolve litigation, this Order repeals the numeric cap of fifty (50) persons on gathering at houses of worship and allows physically large facilities to accommodate more worshippers based on their overall capacity, up to a maximum of of two hundred fifty (250) persons,” said an order from DC Mayor Muriel Bowser issued on December 16, 2020.
The total limit of 250 includes clergy, worshippers, and staff. Previously, churches of any size were allowed to have a total capacity of 50. This included the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the largest Catholic church in North America, which has a normal capacity of approximately 10,000.
The new order also sets a maximum limit of 25% capacity or 250 persons for gyms, skate parks, bowling alleys, and skating rinks, restaurants, and other retail businesses.
The Archdiocese of Washington’s suit complained that churches were given additional restrictions on capacity compared to retail establishments, including restaurants. In the order, Bowser states that the largest restaurant in DC would have a capacity of 250 people at 25% capacity.