NC Sheriff Won't Enforce Limit On Church Attendance

May 14, 2020

Johnston County Sheriff Steve Blizell said in a letter Wednesday that the state's 10-person limit on church services was unfair and morally wrong while retailers are continuing to operate with social-distancing guidelines.
Credit Karl Fredrickson / Unsplash

A sheriff in North Carolina said his department won't enforce state guidelines limiting church attendance during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a  letter released Wednesday, Johnston County Sheriff Steve Blizell called the state's 10-person limit on in-person church services "unfair" and "morally wrong," before encouraging people to "HAVE CHURCH!"
Blizell was part of the 12-member executive committee of the North Carolina Sheriffs' Association that asked Gov. Roy Cooper to allow indoor church services last week, saying that the guidelines for churches should be no more severe than those for retailers.

Most businesses in the state can open with limited customer occupancy, usually to 50% of what the fire code allows. "If social distancing and other guidelines are good enough to allow big box stores to operate? Why is it not good enough for in-person church services?" Blizell wrote in his letter.

"We know that inside, it is much more likely than you're going to transmit this virus, particularly when you're sitting or standing in one place for a long time," Cooper said Tuesday, according to the News & Observer. "I miss in-person church services very much myself."

State health officials said on Monday they are taking a look at the language designed to provide an exception to the continued ban on mass gatherings of more than 10 people.