New Mexico restores indoor worship services to 100% capacity
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New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday allowed places of worship statewide to operate at full capacity.
The state limited the capacity of indoor worship services last April in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Since then, restrictions have fluctuated under tiered reopening guidelines.
“The change was made in light of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions that enjoin states from enforcing capacity limits on churches that are more restrictive than other entities like factories and schools,” Grisham press secretary Nora Meyers told Fox News in a statement.
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New Mexico allowed schools to fully reopen on April 5.
The Supreme Court on April 9 ruled that California could not force COVID-19 restrictions on places of worship, Bible studies and prayer meetings after residents and faith groups filed a slew of lawsuits against Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Eucharistic Minister Ron Limon (L) and Altar Server Christopher Coker, 12, prepare for a mass outside of the Basilica of San Albino in which communion would be given to parishioners on May 2, 2020 in Mesilla, New Mexico. (Photo by PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images)
The high court has dealt with similar lawsuits regarding virus-related restrictions on places of worship from across the country.
“…Houses of worship are strongly encouraged to protect their congregants and communities by enacting social distancing measures to bolster public health and minimize risk of viral spread of their own accord,” Meyers added.
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The Archdiocese of Sante Fe on Friday said parishes will continue to follow New Mexico’s COVID-19 recommendations and requested that pastors continue following the state’s color-coded tier system for indoor capacity limits.
“It is of paramount importance to remember that the Church values everyone’s safety and well-being,” Archbishop John C. Wester said in a statement. “Life is sacred and we are taking every precaution to protect our people from the coronavirus.”
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The church will host a public celebration of the Eucharist this weekend in light of the news.
Pastor Skip Heitzig of Albequergue’s Calvary Church, which the state fined in December for breaking indoor worship capacity restrictions during Christmas services, thanked the governor in a Friday statement.
“If it has been awhile since you’ve been in church or you’ve been thinking about faith again after this difficult year, we have a simple message for you: come worship with us this Sunday,” Heitzig said.
New Mexico recorded 245 new cases and one new death on Friday. Nearly 60% of adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.
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