TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami / NSF) – After bitter disputes in various parts of the country over the closure of churches during the COVID-19 During the pandemic, the Florida Senate is poised to introduce a proposal that could help prevent the closure of religious facilities during future emergencies.
The Senate Rules Committee on Thursday, January 13, voted in favor of a measure (SB 254) to protect in-person religious services that are shut down because of the emergency.
Bill Jason Brodeur’s sponsor, R-Sanford, said religious institutions would still have to close if lockdowns were imposed on all businesses during a hurricane-like crisis, but “essentially” , if Target and Publix are open, so should the Foundation.”
Brodeur added that the proposal would not prevent religious leaders from acting on their own to conduct virtual services. With a committee vote on Thursday, the bill is ready for Senate consideration.
Senator Bobby Powell, a West Palm Beach Democrat who voted against the bill, said the state has a responsibility to protect the people.
“There have been a number of times that religious organizations have decided to regroup, and as a result, many people have died,” Powell said. “That being said, we are stewards of the state. We have a responsibility to always move the state forward. In essence, being a religious organization in the state of Florida, thus allowing them to tweak the system by ignoring the emergency order, is not what I think we’re here to do. ”
When pressed by Senator Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, about whether the measure would prevent religious leaders from requiring congregations to show immunization cards or wear masks to attend services no, Brodeur replied: “They are free to ask that. I didn’t know they could legally claim that.”
Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency on March 9, 2020, as the pandemic began to hit the state. Of the more than 50 additional coronavirus-related executive orders DeSantis has issued, one stipulates that certain businesses and essential facilities can operate at reduced capacity, including churches, synagogues and churches. Thai and other houses of worship.
The exemption came shortly after the pastor of a Tampa supermarket was arrested for holding two in-person church services in violation of Hillsborough County’s ordinance banning gatherings of more than 10 people. The fees have finally been reduced.
An analysis of Senate staff noted that in May 2020, when then-President Donald Trump called for the reopening of religious institutions, more than 90% of the establishments were estimated to have closed. to worship directly.
By April 2021, the US Supreme Court had at least five times overturned California’s COVID-19 restrictions on religious activities, staff reports said.
Representative Nick DiCeglie, R-Indian Rocks Beach, submitted the House version (HB 215) of Brodeur’s proposal. The House bill has yet to begin moving through committees. The annual legislative session begins on Tuesday.
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https://miami.cbslocal.com/2022/01/13/covid-19-churches-florida-legislature/ Florida Senate Measures to Keep Churches Open – CBS Miami