Gov. Newsom justifies worship restrictions following Supreme Court ruling on N.Y. church bans

The Supreme Court recently ruled that New York Gov. Cuomo's church restrictions were unconstitutional

Updated: December 2, 2020 - 5:00pm

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California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is continuing with his coronavirus restrictions on church gatherings, following a recent Supreme Court ruling that found New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's restrictions on religious gathering were unconstitutional.

Newsom has banned indoor church services in high-risk areas – the majority of the state — yet other gatherings like sporting events, protests and Hollywood film productions are allowed to continue.

In moderate-risk California counties, churches can hold 25% of the normal capacity indoors.

“California is experiencing an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases, creating an even greater public health need for restrictions on prolonged communal gatherings in indoor places,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office said in a filing, which opposed a church group’s request for the restrictions to be lifted.

Newsom said the "perils" of indoor gatherings with singing combined with the rising coronavirus cases make it acceptable for him to continue the restrictions.

“Scientific evidence demonstrates why those activities pose a particularly grave threat of virus transmission during the current pandemic,” the state’s lawyers said referring to singing and chanting that they claim can spread the virus. 

Harvest Rock Church, which is affiliated with 162 California churches, has requested immediate court intervention while the state is asking the Supreme Court to allow the restrictions on church gatherings to continue. The case is waiting on a ruling in the Ninth U.S. Circuit of Appeals in San Francisco.