Churches in California can begin holding services again at a limited capacity, the state announced on Monday.

The California health department ruled that, subject to the approval of local authorities, churches in the state can begin reopening along with in-store retail shopping. The state had originally placed churches in a later reopening stage than some businesses which have already begun reopening.

Under the new 21-day policy, houses of worship can hold religious services at up to 25% capacity with a maximum of 100 attendees.

Churches have to implement virus prevention plans, recommend face coverings, set social distancing guidance, and “consider eliminating singing and group recitations.” Any singing or recitations “should be conducted outside,” the department said.

On May 12, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone announced that he and other bishops had consulted with local leaders about safely resuming public Masses. Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento said on May 20 that “My brother priests and I are preparing to resume the public celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass.” 

On May 23, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles said he was “working really hard” with state and local officials “to help them to understand what is the importance of the presence of God in our lives and how beautiful it is for us to come to church,” and that “I think the officials are, little by little, understanding better what is that urgent reality.

Full story at Catholic News Agency.