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The CDC says this Easter will look different

covid easter new cdc guidelines, answering the question whether it is safe to celebrate easter
Photo via CDC/Twitter

Last year, then-President Donald Trump hoped that Easter could be a holiday where the United States would shift from lockdown measures to the sort of congregating Americans enjoyed before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. In 2020, it was not safe to celebrate Easter. But what about Easter 2021?

An announcement issued March 31 from the Centers for Disease Control, via Twitter, indicates that for some, this Easter could potentially bring some level of normalcy. 

The tweet read, “If you are fully vaccinated against #COVID19, you can gather safely for #Easter with other fully vaccinated people without wearing masks. Learn more about CDC’s recommendations for people fully vaccinated against COVID-19.” 

The new guidelines from the CDC, published on the website, include a wider range of activities you can safely do, provided you’ve been fully vaccinated, including:

  • You can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask.
  • You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms.

The guidelines do advise people to “avoid medium or large-sized gatherings” and to continue to “take steps to protect yourself and others in many situations, like wearing a mask, staying at least six feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.” 

But whether it is safe or not, there’s already a move in some states to return to church services to celebrate Easter, considered the holiest day on the Christian calendar. 

In Arizona, a number of churches “are getting rid of their capacity limits as well as encouraging—instead of requiring—face coverings and social distancing,” according to KTAR News in Phoenix

The article noted, “St. Anne Roman Catholic Church in Gilbert no longer requires a 35% capacity limit for some masses, allowing more people to attend. A few of their Easter Sunday masses are fully open with no seat reservations required,” and “Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Parish in Scottsdale has lifted capacity limits altogether. Face coverings and social distancing are also now encouraged instead of required.” 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, meanwhile, is considering a “measured return to normal operating procedures disrupted by COVID-19,” though temples have not yet resumed normal operations.

“There’s a real, I think, anticipation and eagerness for a lot of people to return,” said Donald Iloff Jr., spokesperson and senior adviser for Houston’s Lakewood Church to USA Today. “There’s a lot of energy when you worship with other people around you who are worshipping as well … and I think that’s what’s been missed.”

Lakewood Church, one of the country’s largest non-denominational churches and home to highly visible pastor Joel Osteen, is preparing for a large in-person gathering this Easter. Last year, the megachurch opted a special livestreamed program in lieu of a live service, involving celebrity entertainers Mariah Carey and Tyler Perry. 

USA Today noted, according to Iloff, “After restarting in-person services at 25% capacity about two months ago, the church has seen attendance grow to 50%, and a larger crowd is expected on Easter Sunday.” The megachurch can accommodate 16,000 worshippers for each of three planned Sunday services. 

After you get the vaccine, is it safe to …

Sources: CDC, KTAR, USA Today