Places of Worship Prepare for Capacity Limit to be Lifted

NBC Connecticut

During the last year, many have relied on their faith during these unprecedented times.

But gathering with other worshipers has not been easy.

Now in just two days capacity limits will be lifted at places of worship in the state and at some other locations.

In Hartford’s North End, a typical worship at Urban Hope Refuge Church fills up to about 50% of capacity with many watching online.

“Not being in church for almost a year has been detrimental to our congregation in a lot of different ways,” said Pastor AJ Johnson.

Johnson tells us it’s a good thing state capacity limits on houses of worship will be lifted on Friday.

But that will not mean the end of coronavirus precautions here.

“I expect to see more people, but we will still social distance, masks are still going to be required. Temperature checks are still going to be required,” said Johnson.

Keeping people’s guard up against the virus is also the aim of Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin.

“We’re going to continue to stay focused on making sure that those common sense requirements that are still in place are respected and honored because its critical to maintaining the progress that we made,” said Bronin.

Bronin says the city is poised to hand out thousands of cloth masks at places of worship, along with flyers to restaurants which are also having capacity caps ended on Friday.

The city is going to continue checks to make sure masks and social distancing rules are followed.

“We’ve had our inspectors going out for many months whenever they can they go out in a collaborative, constructive way and just remind our restaurants the importance of honoring all the requirements that are in place,” said Bronin.

For those who are still hesitant about leaving their home, the pastor will continue virtual events.

But as restrictions relax, he’s hopeful people will be more comfortable and head to church where people can connect.

“Obviously we can't touch and hug each other and touch a neighbor like we like to do in church as much as we would like to during this time. But people really, really have a desire to be with each other,” said Johnson.

The pastor says depending on how many people show up he’s prepared to do worship twice and they’re taking COVID-19 seriously especially after the impact it’s had on the Black community.

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