Pandemic Re-opening Best Practices for Churches

Gradual reopening of PA social, economic life to begin soon

Small steps towards a gradual reopening of Pennsylvania social and economic life will begin this week. State officials expect to announce on Friday the first counties that will be permitted to lift some of the coronavirus mitigation measures. 

Health Secretary Rachel Levine confirmed that the state is prepared on Friday to announce which regions and counties will be permitted to move from the “red” designation to the “yellow” designation on Friday, May 8.

The reopening is part of a three-phased plan announced last week by Gov. Tom Wolf. All regions are currently deemed “red.” From there, data and other factors will be used to determine when they can advance to “yellow” and then finally “green.”

The counties announced Friday will have a week of lead time before heading into the yellow phase, which lifts the stay-at-home order, among other measures. There is no set length for each phase. Regions will progress based on current data and conditions, officials have said.

To determine each region’s eligibility to reopen, officials will be assessing target goals related to infection rates, testing capabilities, hospital capacity, and other factors. MORE: Here Are The Metrics That Will Guide PA’s Reopening.

“A target goal for reopening has been set at having fewer than 50 new confirmed cases per 100,000 population reported to the department in the previous 14 days. So, for example, an area with a population of 800,000 people would need to have fewer than 400 new confirmed cases reported in the past 14 days to meet the target. An assessment will determine if the target goal has been met,” the state’s reopening plan explains.

When the southeast region will even be considered for a reopening remains unknown. It will likely be among the last areas to reopen, officials have said. “I don’t have an estimate,” Levine said when probed about offering some sort of timeline for the Philadelphia region’s reopening. She echoed statements from Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert on the White House coronavirus task force: “The virus determines the timeline.”

Levine did confirm Tuesday that experts believe Philadelphia and its suburbs have in fact passed the peak of coronavirus cases. “It does seem we are past the peak,” she said Tuesday. She noted, as areas prepare to reopen, “we are going to have to be very, very careful that we don’t see outbreaks.” If outbreaks occur, officials will have to deal with them “very quickly.”

Today, the Bishop and Cabinet have released guidelines of best practices as we move through the coming weeks and months ahead. Please scroll down to see the link below.

District superintendents and pastors may review these guidelines in the coming weeks. Please note the following:

*We here in Southeastern PA remain in the RED PHASE.  We do not yet have a timeline or date to move to the YELLOW PHASE.

*These guidelines may be updated or changed as we learn new information from the PA Department of Health/CDC. Please faithfully watch your email for updates.

*Most important, the health and welfare of our members and communities remain our first priority. Please especially watch the CDC and Department of Health for information that relates specifically to vulnerable populations. We will continue to monitor the directives for these groups.

A Q&A document related to these best practices is being created. Please share these guidelines with your church leadership as you begin planning for the coming weeks. 

Click here to view the Best Practices document as a PDF.