June 16, 2021: Message from Andrei Roudenko, Parish COVID-19 Protection Plan Coordinator
California Governor Newsom has signed an Order that officially ends California’s COVID-19 “Stay-At-Home” Order, effective Tuesday, 15 June. This action repeals social distancing and capacity limits on businesses, including Houses of Worship, and relaxes some face-covering (“masks”) guidance.
The County of San Mateo has issued a statement that it fully aligns with all State COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, and has no plans to impose separate guidance.
According to State and County guidelines, use of face covering is not required for fully vaccinated individuals, except in “selected settings”, but the “selected settings” do not include Houses of Worship. However, masks are required for unvaccinated individuals in indoor public settings and businesses. Thus far, the State and San Mateo County have not defined specific revised guidance for Houses of Worship. Therefore, the generic guidance defined for “businesses” can be interpreted as being applicable to Houses of Worship. Both the State and County governments have indicated that a return to restrictions could occur if COVID conditions take a significant turn for the worse.
What does this mean for our parish? For the foreseeable future:
* All those who have previously been “invited” to attend services can do so, and can attend inside the church. (Weekly invitations are no longer necessary, and will no longer be issued. Feel free to attend all services!)
* Those who have been vaccinated do not need to wear face coverings when attending services inside or outside our church. (Anyone who has been vaccinated and wishes to continue to use face coverings, for whatever personal reason, may do so.)
* Those who have not been vaccinated must continue to wear face coverings when attending services inside or outside the church whenever social distancing cannot be maintained.
* Until all COVID restrictions are completely lifted, we will continue to provide an optional alternative to attend services outdoors.
As mentioned in previous posts,
(1) our parish neither encourages nor discourages vaccination - we consider that vaccination in general, and related to COVID-19 in particular, is a personal choice,
(2) to the maximum extent possible, we respect and wish to protect confidentiality associated with disclosing (or not) whether an individual has received a vaccination in general, and related to COVID-19 in particular, and
(3) we encourage compliance with requirements that are established by competent civil authorities (as long as the requirements do not violate the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, the teachings of the Holy Fathers, or any Directives of our Ruling Bishop).
It is obvious from the discussion above that current State and County guidelines are centered on vaccination status. State and County guidelines delegate “enforcement” or “verification” of vaccination status to individual “business” entities. As an Orthodox Christian entity, our parish will rely on an “honor system” in which we will trust each individual to honestly adhere to the requirements that apply to their vaccinated or unvaccinated status.
Lifting of the COVID-19 “Stay-At-Home” Order is a major step toward resumption of pre-COVID normalcy, but some restrictions remain in effect. We ask for your continued good-faith compliance with guidelines, we welcome you back to indoor attendance, and encourage you to attend all of our services.