Florida Churches Can Hold Services During Covid-19 Pandemic
Nothing is preventing churches in the state of Florida from holding church services amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
On the evening of March 30th, Governor Ron DeSantis filed the Safer at Home Executive Order Executive Order 20-91.
It deemed the act of going to church as an essential activity.
"I don't think the government has the authority to close a church. I'm certainly not going to do that," DeSantis said Thursday April 2nd during an online press conference. He said what churches are doing, in times like this, "is very important for people."
In an unexpected move on April 1st the Governor filed a second order called Executive Order 20-92. It edited the section of Safer at Home pertaining to how it relates to orders from city and county governments, saying the State will have the final say on the matter - and every matter - regarding Covid-19 orders and measures.
The new version of Section 4 reads, "This Order shall supersede any conflicting official action or order issued by local officials in response to COVID-19." It removed the final portion of the sentence which, in Safer at Home, originally read, "...but only to the extent that such action or order allows essential services or essential activities prohibited by this Executive Order."
DeSantis presented a different case Thursday, saying he would work with local governments. "We have the baseline. If some folks want to - you know - want to do things more - then they can do more in certain situations. We want to work with the local folks. I think each region in Florida is very distinct. And some of these things may need to be approached differently. I am happy to work with them about it. And we've let everyone know that from the beginning."
This is in complete contrast to what the Governor put in writing Wednesday evening.
On March 26th, Orange County had issued Executive Order 20-04 which states that "all persons leading, performing or attending religious or funeral services are urged to fully comply with all measures advised by the CDC, including limiting gatherings to not more than ten (10) people and practicing social distancing of at least six (6) feet between persons."
Orange County Public Information Officer Despina McLaughlin confirmed Thursday with The Daily City that its Executive Order 20-04 will be superseded by the statewide Safer at Home once it becomes effective.
"I think people are going to want access to Easter services whether it's online or (in person)," DeSantis said.
The Safer at Home order becomes effective April 3rd at 12:01am and expires April 30th baring any extensions.