Leaders of San Diego County in California voted unanimously on Wednesday to allow churches and fitness centers to utilize county parks for outdoor services.
Fees will be waived that would normally be charged for obtaining permits, but equipment rental and day-use parking fees will still apply.
The measure was proposed by Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who encouraged the “open-the-parks initiative” in order to “lend a helping hand” to religious organizations and fitness-related businesses who have been unable to meet together during the COVID-19 restrictions.
Good news for our places of worship and fitness-related businesses: The Board of Supervisors just unanimously approved my proposal to open up our county parks to workouts and worship… pic.twitter.com/6Gzg5AIxLO
— Dianne Jacob (@dianne_jacob) August 5, 2020
Jacob pointed to the creativity of restaurants, who have added additional outdoor seating in order to keep their doors open safely while communities work to keep COVID rates low.
She wanted to offer the same type of creativity to other businesses and organizations who have suffered through the past several months of government regulations.
“Sometimes, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel for a successful operation,” she said prior to the vote. “We’re being creative in the county. We’re being as innovative as possible and as flexible as possible to help our businesses, our churches, our gyms…”
Other cities that have implemented similar proposals, opening up public outdoor spaces for gatherings, still require the practice of social distancing and the wearing of face masks.
The California government closed down indoor operations of most businesses and organizations in response to COVID-19. Only shortly after restrictions began to lift, indoor operations were again closed to mitigate any spikes in COVID rates.
California worship leader Sean Feucht rejoiced on social media for the county’s decision: “This is a huge victory for the church. The courage of these officials should be applauded.”
My statement on San Diego County's unanimous vote in favor of opening parks for worship:
"Thousands gathered to worship in San Diego. They heard us. They acted. This is a huge victory for the church. The courage of these officials should be applauded."https://t.co/a7HVahpomQ
— Sean Feucht (@seanfeucht) August 5, 2020
Feucht held a Christian worship gathering in San Diego on July 26th in response to the government’s recent ban on singing in public. Officials estimated an attendance of 5,000 people on the beach during the event, where praise and worship, salvations, and baptisms occurred.