After 5 months of adhering to public health orders set to slow the spread of the novel Coronavirus, Awaken Church in San Diego, California has reopened its doors to the public.
Ever since Governor Newsom's banning of large indoor gatherings and services, Awaken Church proceeded with outdoor and online meetings. However, the church began opening its doors to regular indoor services in late July. Awaken Church was issued a cease-and-desist letter from Dr. Wilma Wooten, a Health Officer in the County of San Diego, after footage of indoor operations were seen online.
The church officially stated that "this decision was not made lightly. Our community is hurting." The statement proceeds to share the government's lack of understanding regarding people affected in different ways during the Pandemic. It plans to reopen its doors to people suffering from relapsed drug addictions, increased domestic abuse, and overall mental health as they believe "this cannot be done virtually or at a distance."
Awaken Church has reportedly purchased several air-ionizers to filter out impurities from the air within each of its campuses. It also plans to provide free face masks to those who wish to wear them during indoor services. Pastor Jon Heinrich said, "we think, actually, our church buildings are the safest places in San Diego."
County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, although acknowledging the First Amendment, expressed great concern over continuing large indoor services. He insisted, "we've seen the extreme danger presented from large indoor gatherings of individuals for an extended period of time." The County Supervisor demands churches continue with outdoor operations and abide by current public health orders.