Churches move worship outdoors to comply with new restrictions

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SAN DIEGO — Churches held worship outdoors Sunday for the first time in months because of a new round of COVID-19 restrictions.

“I think it was a challenge, but I think our people are very happy that even though we’re not inside the church, we’re at least able to offer services outside the church,” Father Efrain Bautista said.

Bautista is pastor at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Bonita. He said like many businesses, they’ve been monitoring the county’s coronavirus cases and preparing for the move back into the ‘purple tier.’

“We had a great number of people come in today, still, for our services. They were very grateful that we were able to gather even though it was outside. They were very excited,” Bautista said.

About 900 people attended their services throughout the weekend with worshippers asked to bring their own chairs for sanitary purposes. It wasn’t a terrible turnout for their first time holding mass outside, but it’s also not the greatest, according to Bautista.

“We’re really down, and I think we still have a lot people that are scared and afraid to leave their homes,” he said.

San Diego County reported 1,087 new cases Sunday afternoon, a big jump from the record-breaking 736 new cases on Saturday. Bautista said the church and other parishes in San Diego plan on holding services outside for the foreseeable future. The church will continue to stream services online. He said now more than ever, people are hungry for God.

“They’re looking for hope and I think churches and places of worship can provide that hope, knowing that in the midst of everything we’re living, God is still with us,” Father Bautista said.

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