San Francisco

U.S. Attorney General Threatens SF With Legal Action Over COVID-19 Restrictions

NBC Universal, Inc.

Is it time to go back to church? The U.S. Attorney is threatening legal action against San Francisco if it doesn’t allow churches to reopen.

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone is relieved the U.S. Attorney’s Office is pressuring the city to allow places of worship to open.

The Department of Justice sent Mayor London Breed a letter that said current COVID-19 restrictions limiting places of worship to one person at a time infringe on religious freedom and violate First Amendment rights.

The letter said the restrictions must be changed or further action may be taken.

“People don’t have a First Amendment right to get a haircut or have a manicure, but we do have a First Amendment right to worship,” Cordileone said. “We’re being treated more severely than others. I’m grateful to the attorney general.”

In a statement, the city attorney said, “Maybe the federal government should focus on an actual pandemic response instead of lobbing carless legal threats. San Francisco is opening at the speed of safety.”

Baptist church Reverend Amos Brown would like to know more about why the attorney general is weighing in. He said that while the health department could improve communication with faith leaders, he believes restrictions save lives.

“We shouldn’t be foolish or so impatient that we aren’t careful about safety and the lives of others,” Brown said.

The San Francisco interfaith council said the city’s health officer will speak to faith leaders on Thursday about the restrictions, but some changes to the health order are also expected next week that will allow places of worship to have services inside at 25% capacity or up to 50 people.

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