Josephine County churches draft plans to reopen

JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. — At least seven churches in Josephine County are working with commissioners and county public health to make plans on how to safely reopen.

“We’re not giving them a thumbs up to reopen. What we’re doing is going over their plans, so when they do, they have good measures in place to keep people safe,” Mike Weber, Josephine County Public Health Director, said.

Weber says each plan is different but many churches are looking toward June 7, as the day to get people back in the pews.

“Many churches I have talked to are targeting that because it alines with phase two and they are hoping that the restrictions associated with phase two are open enough to provide an in-person service,” Weber said.

The county suggests plans include two major components, including maintaining social distancing before, during and after services and minimizing the amount of people present. For churches who take communion, it could look a little different.

“Some churches have proposed that the congregates bring their own communion. Others are placing it out ahead of time, so that people don’t have to gather or line up or walk up to an individual to have them hand it and some churches are simply not doing communion for the time being,” Weber said.

Churches in Josephine County aren’t the only ones eager to reopen and frustrated with Governor Kate Brown’s coronavirus restrictions.

Ten churches across eastern Oregon filed a lawsuit against Governor Brown, arguing the stay at home order goes against their religious freedom. After a Baker County judge sided with the churches, Governor Brown appealed to the state supreme court.

It announced Monday night that the stay home, stay healthy order will remain in effect while the court hears the lawsuit. The judge asked Common Sense for Oregon, one of the groups suing the state, to respond in writing by Friday

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