Places of worship are now allowed to operate indoors at 25% capacity after holding services outdoors for months.
Since the news, many local church pastors said they are extremely happy that people who come to their masses and services are now able to be inside.
"We are really excited. We got this news, 25% capacity, and that means we can open our indoor services,” said Pastor Jim Larrabee at First Christian Church in Santa Maria.
California revised its guidelines for indoor church services after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the state’s ban on indoor worship last week.
Santa Barbara County Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg made it official Thursday with a new Health Officer Order that also allows for the following:
- Gyms can now open for one-on-one personal training
- Live performances outdoors at restaurants, wineries, and tasting rooms that have an emergency food permit are allowed
- Wedding ceremonies indoors at 25% capacity
- Places of worship indoors at 25% capacity
"It was all hands on deck getting the church ready because it's been sitting empty so it was getting dusty so we dusted it down, cleaned it down, got the vacuums out, made sure all the lining down at the church so people knew where they could and could not sit,” said St. Louis de Montfort church pastor Aidan Rossiter.
Before this order, indoor worship services were banned in purple-tiered counties.
Pastor Rossiter said he's already received a lot of good feedback from people who attend his church and he looks forward to this Sunday's mass.
"We've seen the light at the end of this tunnel for us but we have to recognize we still are in that tunnel and traveling along so we need to keep ourselves socially distanced from all this, mask and cleaning our hands, etc.,” Rossiter said.
For both First Christian and St. Louis de Montfort churches, this means about 200 people are now able to be inside during services.
"We can let in about 200 people. I don't know if that's how many will show up to come indoors but we will be able to have at least that amount with the 25% capacity,” Larabee said.
Both churches do plan on still having outdoor masses for those who'd prefer that option or live stream as well.