Republicans in the Minnesota State Senate believe that churches should be allowed to remain open just like big box stores during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If you can congregate at a big box store safely on a Sunday, you should be able to attend your place of worship,” the Republicans said via their Twitter page, Sunday. The tweet also includes a message from Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka who called on Minnesota’s liberal Governor Tim Walz to allow places of worship to reopen.
“[Pastors] know they can provide a church service where people don’t touch anything,” thus reducing the risk of coronavirus transmission, Gazelka says.
If you can congregate at a big box store safely on a Sunday, you should be able to attend your place of worship. Majority Leader @paulgazelka is working with churches to get their plans to @GovTimWalz so they can open up. #mnleg #OpenUpMn pic.twitter.com/4dkEGbIwN9
— Minnesota Senate Republicans (@mnsrc) April 26, 2020
Churches were ordered to close at the outset of Walz’s stay at home order in late March. The governor has since extended the order to last through May 4, and may issue another extension soon, according to MPR. Walz is concerned that once the order is lifted, people will return to public life too quickly. “I’m just afraid people are ready to bust out and this thing [COVID-19] spikes up,” he says.
While churches remain closed, the city of Minneapolis has taken action to support a mosque during COVID-19 related shutdowns. Ramadan began on April 23. Becuase Muslims will be unable to attend their places of worship during this month of fasting and prayer, Minneapolis partnered with Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque to publicly broadcast the call to prayer in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.
“At a time when physical distancing requires we pray apart, it’s incumbent on leaders to create a sense of togetherness where we can,” said the city’s mayor, Jacob Frey. “Adhan [the call to prayer] provides solidarity and comfort – both of which are essential during a time of crisis.”