Indoor operations at risk of closing again in Fresno County, including places of worship

February 07 2021 03:30 pm

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) — Fresno County could be headed back into the Purple Tier. On Friday, the Fresno County Public Health Department expressed concerns after seeing a slight increase in positive COVID-19 cases.

If this happens, indoor services would have to close again, including places of worship.

On Sunday, many gathered at Peoples Church in Fresno for its first indoor service in months. 

Empty chairs separated congregation members and for the most part, people were wearing masks.

“We have both online, indoor and outdoor services so people can make decisions in regards to what’s best for them,” Executive Pastor Brad Liebe of Peoples Church said.

But things could soon change. Fresno County Public Health Department said the chances of moving back into the Purple Tier are high, which means indoor operations could shut down again.

“Our plans right now are to wait and hear what is happening so we’re not making decisions based upon speculation or based upon what-ifs and so typically, Tuesday, we get the report and then we’ll be making decisions based upon that,” Liebe said.

CrossCity Christian Church on Nees, near Willow Avenue, echoing those plans.

“Our people are hungry to be here, they’re walking in with smiles on their face, we did pivot before, we met outside but we are not ready to make a decision right now on what we’ll do on information that hasn’t been given to us yet,” said Brent Deffenbacher, associate pastor of CrossCity Christian Church.

Deffenbacher says they are taking safety precautions – with signs posted outside to social distance.

In downtown Fresno, Cornerstone Church has been gathering indoors since May 31st.

Like Peoples Church, they are having people social distance by using empty chairs as well to keep them separated. 

Since the start of the pandemic, Pastor Jim Franklin has held firm to his belief that churches are essential and should remain open.

He says if the county moves back into the Purple Tier they won’t close.

“We’ve done it safely, we’ve done social distancing, we’re providing essential services, churches should not be shut down regardless of what the governor says,” Franklin said.

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