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Posted on: April 8, 2020

Stay Safe While Practicing Religion and Spirituality

Update 4/9/2020: 

This afternoon the governor, after further consideration and consultation with religious organizations, has determined that “parking lot services, where congregants stay in their vehicles and avoid person-to-person contact” would be in compliance with the Safer at Home order. The changes in guidance now allow churches and religious services to be conducted via the following examples:

1. Parking lots w/congregants staying in cars, avoiding person-to-person contact;

2. Streaming online; and

3. Having small gatherings (fewer than 10 people in each room) with multiple services.

Calumet County Public Health has always followed the guidance given by the state regarding the Governor’s Safer at Home order and will continue to do so. This includes when decisions are modified.

Please remember, if you choose to participate in a ‘drive-in’ service, you still need to follow the rest of the Safer at Home Order: stay in your vehicle and avoid person-to-person contact with people that are not in your household. This would mean you should only have people from your own household in your vehicle. The goal is to keep everyone safe and limit exposure to the virus while being able to participate in the service.

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Chilton, WI – On March 24, 2020, Governor Evers issued a Safer at Home order, directing Wisconsinites to stay at home in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. This order is in effect until Friday, April 24, 2020, or until a superseding order is issued.

The order does not allow for gatherings of 10 or more people in a room or confined space at a time. A confined space is not only limited to indoor gatherings, but also includes any defined space, including parking lots and festival grounds. This includes religious gatherings, drive-in services, weddings, and funerals. It is also important to limit gatherings only to people living within the same household to avoid transmitting the virus through social networks.

Therefore, based on directives from Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services, there can be no drive-in religious services until the Safe at Home order is no longer in effect.  

Physical distancing is our only defense against this virus. Community, faith- and spiritual-based organizations have an important role in slowing the spread of COVID-19, especially among high-risk populations. These organizations often nobly serve these high-risk populations. 

“This is a challenging time for all and we have to make big sacrifices for a little while to protect the health of our community,” said Bonnie Kolbe, RN, Calumet County Health Officer. “For many in our communities, coming together to practice our religious and spiritual beliefs provides hope, strength and social connectedness. We look forward to the day we can again allow in-person gatherings to take place. In the meantime, we ask that you stay connected with one another through phone calls, video chats, text messages, and other ways that do not include physical gatherings.”

Thankfully, with modern technology, there are many creative options available for staying connected and nurturing spiritual health during this challenging time which do not include actual physical locations. Many churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and other places of worship are offering services through television, radio, podcasts, and live streams on the Internet.

We sympathize with congregants of faith- and spiritual-based organizations that miss the services and fellowship, but the goal is to keep everyone safe and healthy by following the practices put in place by the Safer At Home order.

If you have questions or immediate needs related to COVID-19, call 2-1-1 or text COVID-19 to 211-211. For up-to-date information, please frequently monitor the Calumet County website, the DHS website for updates, and follow @DHSWI on Facebook and Twitter, or dhs.wi on Instagram. Additional information can be found on the CDC website.

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