Insight from New York and Connecticut State Govemments

Covid 19 Guidelines - Church Reopening Banner


The Great Seal of the State of New York

New York State

Governor Cuomo has issued the following PHASE-IN plan for reopening:

  • Phase 1: Construction, Manufacturing, & select retail with curb-side pick-up will be allowed when the seven-step metrics (below) are met. The ability to move to the next phase will be determined by “Control Rooms” that are being established in each region.
  • Phase 2: Professional services, retail, real estate, and finance.
  • Phase 3: Restaurants and hotels.
  • Phase 4: Arts, recreation, and education.

Each of these groups must produce a plan to ensure employee and customer safety based on CDC guidlines.

Business precautions that must be cared for are as follows:

  • Workplace hours must be adjusted to reduce density.
  • Enact social distancing policies.
  • Non-essential travel for employees will be restricted.
  • All employees and customers will be required to wear masks.
  • Strict cleaning and sanitation standards will be implemented.
  • Enact a continuous health screening process for individuals to enter the workplace.
  • Tracing, tracking, and reporting of cases will continue.
  • Liability processes must be developed.

The state has also released a tracking page for each region with regard to meeting reopening metrics. Those metrics are based on the following:

  1. 14-day decline in hospitalizations or under 15 new hospitalizations (3-day average).
  2. 14 Day decline in hospital deaths or fewer than 5 deaths (3-day average).
  3. New hospitalizations (under 2 per 100,000 residents – 3 day rolling average).
  4. Share of total beds available (threshold of 30%).
  5. Share of ICU beds available (threshold of 30%)
  6. 30 per 1,000 residents tested monthly (7-day average of new tests per day).
  7. At east 30 contact tracers per 100,000 residents.

Currently, as of May, 8, no region has met the requirements to open. In addition, as of the printing of this document, faith communities have not been described in the reopening plan. For purposes related to our United Methodist churches, it is our determination that the earliest any churches within the three New York regions could re-open would be within Phase 3 for churches that worship less than 50 persons and Phase 4 for all others

Connecticut Seal

State of Connecticut

Governor Lamont and the State of Connecticut has also issued the following reopening plan for May 20:

  • Restaurants (outdoor only)
  • Retail
  • Offices (continuing to work from home where possible)
  • Personal services (hair and nail only)
  • Museums, Zoos (outdoor only)
  • Outdoor recreation (camping, mountain biking, etc.)
  • University research programs.
  • Churches that worship less than 50 persons would be permitted to re-open on June 7th (when the CDC Guidelines have been met and a plan for adherence to those guidelines has been established and approved).

Connecticut has also issued criteria for Initial Reopening. Those include the following:

  1. 14-day decline in hospitalizations.
  2. Increased testing available.
  3. Sufficient contact tracing capacity.
  4. Protection of high-risk populations.
  5. Adequate healthcare capacity.
  6. Adequate supply of PPE
  7. Appropriate physical distancing regulations.

This document relies on information from the following sources:

CDC Business Plan Guidelines:

24 Questions Your Church Should Answer before People Return, Ken Braddy, April 18, 2020.

Returning to Church – Ministry during the Covid-19 Outbreak, The Wisconsin Council of Churches

Regional Guidelines for Reopening New York, New York State Government website.

Criteria for Initial Reopening, State of Connecticut Government website.

Document from the Upstate New York Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

NY Forward: A Guide to Reopening New York & Building Back Better published by the State of New York.