As more and more Mississippians get vaccinated, we’re beginning to see a return to some sense of normalcy. With that in mind, the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) has now issued updated guidance for faith-based gatherings and worship services.
Officials state that the safest options continue to be virtual or outdoor services to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the vulnerable.
The MSDH recommends that everyone 16 and older be vaccinated against COVID-19, even if the individual has been previously infected with COVID-19.
For those meeting indoors, MSDH recommends the following guidelines:
1) Everyone 65 years of age or older should be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to attending in-person worship services (full vaccination is considered 2 weeks after the second dose of a two-dose vaccine, or 2 weeks after receiving a single-dose vaccine).
2) Anyone 16 or older with high-risk medical conditions should be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to attending in-person worship services (two weeks after completing vaccination).
3) Indoor safety guidance:
- All congregants should wear a face mask at all times during in-person services.
- All congregants should maintain six feet of separation from persons outside of their household. Household members may sit together.
- Congregants should not gather in close groups while entering or exiting the building.
- Congregants should use hand sanitizer prior to or upon entry of the building.
- Singing is a high-risk activity that can quickly spread viral particles. It is preferable to not have choirs; however, if choirs are performing, they should be small in number, masked, and separated by six feet.
- Those in classroom settings such as Sunday school or study groups should maintain six feet of separation and wear a mask at all times.
- As appropriate, alternatives to shared cups for communion should be pursued.
- The use of hymn books or prayer books is acceptable so long as congregants practice proper hand hygiene upon entering.
4) Additional procedures to protect congregants are encouraged based on local congregation leadership decisions.