Note: This news release has been updated to reflect Gov. Tony Evers’ announcement Friday that worship services in parking lots, in which attendees remain in their vehicles, are permitted under the Stay-at-Home order.
As Passover begins today and Easter Sunday approaches, the Kenosha County Division of Health is urging people to practice their faith while also observing the state’s Safer-at-Home order.
While the order allows individuals to leave their homes for limited essential activities, it does not permit gatherings of more than 10 people in a room or confined space at a time. Gatherings held in parking lots, where congregants remain in cars and avoid person-to-person contact, are permitted.
“We recognize that this is a difficult limitation for many who are accustomed to practicing their faith with others, particularly at this time of the year,” said Dr. Jen Freiheit, Kenosha County Health Officer. “But we also know that staying safer at home and avoiding gatherings with those outside your household is key to fighting the COVID-19 epidemic.”
Community-, faith- and spiritual-based organizations have an important role in slowing the spread of COVID-19, especially among high-risk populations, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services noted. These organizations often nobly serve those who are most vulnerable, including people with heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes. These community members are at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 illness.
Religious and spiritual leaders are urged continue to stay up to date on information related to the pandemic and to actively disseminate accurate and timely information. This includes developing information-sharing systems with partners, including local health officials, and communicating this information to regular attendees, people being served by the organization, and the broader community.
With modern technology, there are many creative options available for staying connected and nurturing spiritual health during this challenging time, and Freiheit encourages individuals and houses of worship to embrace them.
Many churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and other places of worship are offering services through television, radio, podcasts, and livestreams on the Internet.
“The more we make sacrifices now and use technology to gather virtually, the sooner we will be able to responsibly return to the way of life we all miss so much,” Freiheit said.