Health officials issue updated guidance for faith-based gatherings and worship services
Published 3:30 pm Monday, March 29, 2021
JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) has now issued updated guidance on safer faith-based gatherings and worship services.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the vulnerable, the safest options continue to be virtual or outdoor services.
The MSDH recommends that everyone 16 and older be vaccinated against COVID-19, even if the individual has been previously infected with COVID-19.
For those meeting indoors, MSDH recommends the following guidelines:
- Everyone 65 years of age or older should be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to attending in-person worship services (full vaccination is considered 2 weeks after the second dose of a two-dose vaccine, or 2 weeks after receiving a single-dose vaccine).
- Anyone 16 or older with high-risk medical conditions should be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to attending in-person worship services (two weeks after completing vaccination).
- Indoor safety guidance:
- All congregants should wear a face mask at all times during in-person services.
- All congregants should maintain six feet of separation from persons outside of their household. Household members may sit together.
- Congregants should not gather in close groups while entering or exiting the building.
- Congregants should use hand sanitizer prior to or upon entry of the building.
- Singing is a high-risk activity that can quickly spread viral particles. It is preferable to not have choirs; however, if choirs are performing, they should be small in number, masked, and separated by six feet.
- Those in classroom settings such as Sunday school or study groups should maintain six feet of separation and wear a mask at all times.
- As appropriate, alternatives to shared cups for communion should be pursued.
- The use of hymn books or prayer books is acceptable so long as congregants practice proper hand hygiene upon entering.
- Additional procedures to protect congregants are encouraged based on local congregation leadership decisions.