Santa Clara County

Santa Clara County Revokes Plans to Allow Indoor Worship

NBC Universal, Inc.

It’s like the rug was pulled out from under them. That’s the feeling expressed by many churches and churchgoers Thursday, after hearing that Santa Clara County had revoked plans to allow them to reopen for limited indoor services.

Just one day after saying a judge’s order required them to allow for a limited reopening, the county now says another judge has re-instated the outdoor-only rule.

Members of Bethel Church in San Jose were looking forward to indoor worship for the first time in a long time this Sunday, but now they’ll have to wait.

The church on Winchester Boulevard was preparing for a limited indoor service, and had even set up a system to handle the overflow in case the county’s 20% capacity limit was topped.

But Tiffany Okoye, who has been going to Bethel for 24 years, just found out that indoor service had to be cancelled again, per county order.

“…you get your hopes up, and you’re like ‘okay, awesome, we’re going to be inside. We get to see people.’ And then all of a sudden that’s taken away, and then it’s a crash,” she said.

Senior Pastor Frank Silverii agrees.

“Profoundly disappointed and frustrated,” he said.

Silverii showed NBC Bay Area all the precautions in the sanctuary, including taped off sections where people arrive, where they exit and directions to wear masks and socially distance.

“When we heard the news about being able to come back into the building again it was like, ‘okay, let’s get to work,’ and we did,” said Silverii. “Our staff, our volunteers have all been trained. We pulled all that together, we pivoted in a week.”

Some churches, including the Calvary Chapel, which has defied the order in the past, declined to comment.

County supervisor Cindy Chavez said the county is seeking public safety and agreement.

“One of the most important things that we’ve been trying to do is be consistent and align with the courts and align with the state,” Chavez said.

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