California church ordered to close after holding indoor meetings of 600 people without masks

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A North California church has been ordered to stop holding large indoor gatherings amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Santa Clara County Superior Court issued a temporary restraining order on Monday banning the Calvary Chapel in San Jose from hosting large indoor gatherings.

The move follows repeated citations from county officials for violating coronavirus restrictions, which have led to more than $350,000 in fines. 

The church was holding indoor gatherings with some 600 people, the court said, adding that such meetings could easily become superspreader events. 

The Calvary Chapel in San Jose, California received several citations and fines before being ordered to close on Monday

The Calvary Chapel in San Jose, California received several citations and fines before being ordered to close on Monday

Calvary Chapel has been in-person services without face masks or social distancing since May, CNN reported county officials as saying. 

County health orders state indoor gatherings should be limited to 100 people. Social distancing and the wearing of masks is required.  

County counsel said it had issued the church with 10 notices of violation.

The Chapel has yet to respond to the order, which is due to last until a hearing on December 1 to determine whether an extension is required. 

Speaking on Friday, before the order was granted, Pastor Michael McClure – who along with the church is named as a defendant in the suit – said county officials had never genuinely tried to work with the church to find a solution. 

‘I would love to work with the health department but they came here, got really upset and yelled at us and left, they never wanted to talk to me or work with me and I’d love to, we’re trying to help the community’, ABC 7 quoted McClure as saying. 

The order came after Santa Clara County district attorney and the county counsel jointly filed an injunction last week accusing the church of flouting health order. 

They said legal action was the ‘only remedy’. 

The church has continued to hold large indoor gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic, flouting rules that require the wearing of masks and social distancing

‘County officials spent months trying to work with church officials to get them to come into compliance voluntarily and issued fines when they refused,’ county officials said in a statement after filing the injunction. 

The statement added that the county DA and counsel filed the request for the court order ‘after church officials made clear they had no intention of ending their dangerous conduct.’ 

The suit accused the church of endangering congregants and others by holding in-person services and ‘trumpeting’ them on live streams.

The filing also accused the church of not reporting positive cases to the county, making it difficult to work out whether it had ben involved in spreading the virus.  

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