KALISPELL — Places of worship were allowed to reopen on Sunday under the first phase of Gov. Steve Bullock’s plan to gradually reopen Montana.
Flathead County officials announced on Friday that it would be following Gov. Bullock’s instructions. However, many places of worship here aren’t ready to open their doors just yet.
“We’ve decided not to resume church services this Sunday and probably not in the next few Sundays as well, just so we give ourselves that buffer, of being able to make sure everyone is safe,” explained Scott Thompson with Bethlehem Lutheran Church. “Many of our members and many of the people that would come to our church are in some of the high-risk groups."
Rabbi Francine Roston of B’Nai Shalom in Whitefish has also decided to keep its services online, something that’s been successful in the past few weeks.
"People have really responded pretty well to it. People have really enjoyed the opportunity to stay connected that way and feel like they still have the opportunity to go to church without leaving their house,” he told MTN News.
Flathead County’s guidelines call for strict physical distancing protocols between non-household members while avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people. Even when more Churches start to reopen, Thompson knows they’ll have to be cautious.
“We're going to have to put in place some protocols about social distancing and trying to keep people from shaking hands and hugging too much because those are the things where people are going to be transmitting this thing and the last thing we want is one of our members or someone who comes to church here to get sick."