On Wednesday, May 12, San Mateo County advanced to California’s Yellow Tier, which allows the broadest reopening of the economy since the beginning of the pandemic. Some important features of Yellow Tier are (1) Places of Worship are allowed attendance up to 50% capacity, and (2) face covering guidelines are partially revised. With regard to face covering, the following are revised guidance, (which are presented here only to illustrate the basis for the discussion further on in this posting):
1. For fully vaccinated persons, face coverings are not required outdoors except when attending crowded outdoor events, such as live performances, parades, fairs, festivals, sports events, or other similar settings.
2. For unvaccinated persons, face coverings are required outdoors any time physical distancing cannot be maintained,.
3. In indoor settings outside of one's home, including public transportation, face coverings continue to be required regardless of vaccination status,
4. Fully Vaccinated people can:
- Visit, without wearing masks or physical distancing, with other fully vaccinated people in indoor or outdoor settings; and
- Visit, without wearing masks or physical distancing, with unvaccinated people (including children) from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease in indoor and outdoor settings.
As far as indoor attendance at our church is concerned, unfortunately, moving to Yellow Tier has no positive impact for us since, as described in several past postings, our indoor capacity is limited by social distancing. We will therefore need to continue our current hybrid indoor/outdoor attendance approach (as described in our Website posting “May 10, 2021: Message from Andrei Roudenko, Parish COVID-19 Protection Plan Coordinator”), until social distancing requirements are relaxed.
It is worthy to note that emerging relaxed requirements are generally centered on vaccination. With regard to vaccinations, the policy of our parish is:
1. We neither encourage nor discourage vaccination in general, and for COVID-19 in particular - we consider that vaccination is a personal choice,
2. We respect confidentiality associated with disclosing (or not) whether an individual has received a vaccination in general, and related to COVID-19 in particular,
3. We do not encourage or approve of any actions that violate requirements that are established by competent civil authorities (as long as the requirements do not violate the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, the teachings of the Holy Fathers, or any Directives of our Ruling Bishop),
4. We STRONGLY DISCOURAGE vaccination when any component of the vaccine is the product of harvested aborted fetuses.
While we believe our policy is appropriate, within its constraints, it will be difficult for us to implement measures to increase indoor attendance, within civil regulations. For example, we could establish separate attendance locations for vaccinated (indoor) and non-vaccinated (outdoor) attendees, but this would be discriminatory and potentially compromise confidentiality. This one example is illustrative of the types of complicated decisions that we will be facing in the near future.
With God’s guidance, we will work to restore normal church attendance - this is our goal. Until then, we ask for your patience as we maintain our current status quo, and prayers, so that every decision that we take is pleasing to God and beneficial to you, our parish members.