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SANTEE, Calif. (CNS) — State Sen. Brian Jones of Santee called on Gov. Gavin Newsom Tuesday to re-open all places of worship that have been ordered temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In his letter to the governor’s office, Jones, a Republican, argued that houses of worship should have been deemed “essential in the first place” under the First Amendment when officials crafted stay-at-home orders in March.

Jones further claimed that churches, synagogues, mosques and temples are all able to follow the guidelines set out by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control for essential businesses, and therefore can safely open their doors.

“Houses of worship are more than capable of observing CDC guidelines on social distancing and cleanliness,” Jones wrote.

Places of worship are not permitted to hold public services under California’s current stay-at-home orders, although many continue to hold virtual services.

Newsom did announce the modifications of some state regulations on Tuesday, giving individual counties the authority to allow shopping malls, strip malls and outlet malls to reopen with curbside pickup.

A similar letter was also sent to San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chairman Greg Cox.