Orange County mayor hosts virtual town hall with local churches

Nearly 300 church leaders and representatives took part in a virtual town hall meeting with Orange County Government looking for answers on how to reopen.

“I’m appealing to our government leaders just the importance and the validly of our houses of worship opening,” First Baptist Orlando Pastor Danny de Armas said. “It’s such a critical part of our community and I think people are missing this more than they are the opportunity to go eat at a restaurant.”

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings hosting a virtual meeting with faith leaders to discuss guidelines for reopening churches.

Churches are essential, according to the state’s guidelines, but Mayor Demings signed an executive order this month limiting in-person services to ten people or less. That was just a guideline.

“Our intent is not to regulate places of worship, but to give you some guidance,” Demings said.

The video call giving faith leaders a chance to ask questions and get the latest information about coronavirus from Orange County’s health officer Dr. Raul Pino

“We’re not trying to tell churches and people of faith what to do with their faith and their religion when they have the freedom of assembly, which is guaranteed in the constitution,” Dr. Pino said. “So, what the CDC has recommended is what we will follow. No more no less than that.”

With social distancing in place right now, church leaders must wait to see what phase two of reopening brings for Florida.

“We just want the green light to move forward and we’re praying for our government leaders to know the right steps to take and the timing as well,” de Armas said.

Mayor Demings has also said in other news conferences that law enforcement will not proactively enforce capacity restriction set on churches.