For many faith traditions, gathering together for worship is at the heart of what it means to be a community of faith.
To protect everyone in your congregation, encourage vaccination. Encourage all community members to get vaccinated for COVID-19 by going to Vaccinate.Virginia.gov or calling 1-877-VAX-IN-VA.
Virginia has questions, we have answers. These can be shared daily/weekly to educate public, or share with target audiences through email, online, texts, print or social.
Individuals should consider their personal risk of COVID-19 before attending an in-person worship service. Attending an indoor service, including services with singing, is generally considered safe for someone who is fully vaccinated, but considered least safe for someone who is not vaccinated. CDC’s Choosing Safer Activities guide can help individuals make safer choices and also help determine when masking and distancing is appropriate. When determining your personal level of risk, here are some factors to consider:
- Level of COVID-19 spread in the community: Unvaccinated individuals are at higher risk of getting infected when COVID-19 is present in the community. Community levels of COVID-19 transmission are available here and also on VDH’s dashboard.
- The number of people at the gathering: For unvaccinated individuals, the risk of COVID-19 is higher when more unvaccinated people are also present.
- Location: For unvaccinated individuals, outdoor gatherings are safer than indoor gatherings. Gatherings in large, well-ventilated spaces are safer than gatherings in smaller spaces that are not well-ventilated, especially when unvaccinated individuals take all precautions, such as distancing and mask wearing.
- Duration: For unvaccinated individuals, spending less time with other unvaccinated people outside your household is safer than spending longer time. This may be especially true in indoor environments where people are shouting or singing.
- Behavior of people attending the gathering: For unvaccinated individuals, if other unvaccinated guests are not masking or distancing, then the risk of COVID-19 spread is higher.
Relative Risk Levels for Attending Religious Gatherings:
Faith-based organizations should consider following VDH Recommendations for Businesses and other Establishments for guidance on masking, distancing, and cleaning.
- Singing and playing wind instruments are considered to be high risk activities for unvaccinated individuals due to the increased amount of respiratory droplets and aerosols that may contain the COVID-19 virus if a person is infected. Increasing distance between people who may be unvaccinated, strongly encouraging or requiring masks for unvaccinated individuals, and increasing ventilation in an area (or singing outside, especially if unvaccinated) can help reduce this risk.
- Outdoor or drive-in services are considered safer options for individuals who are not yet vaccinated.
- Recommendations for hosting social events can be found here.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides Guidance for Faith-based Organizations here.