Florida has now decided to allow church services to continue, as the church that wanted it has decided to close. The River church in Tampa, Florida, still held two services last Sunday despite advice to have 'far-reaching social distancing measures.' Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne was charged with unlawful assembly and violation of a public health emergency order. His bail was $500 and he was released. Pastor Howard-Browne said in a recent service that it was a free speech issue, saying: "We are not a non-essential service…suddenly we are demonised because we believe in a God who heals." However, now the state has updated its rules, saying "attending religious services conducted in churches, synagogues and houses of worship" is counted as an essential service, something Pastor Howard-Browne argued last week. Otherwise, the Governor of Florida, Ron Desantis, recommends not attending social gatherings of more than ten people. But Howard-Browne has already said he will shut the church this weekend because he claims congregation members are getting death threats and the church is being fired at.

 

Hospital chaplains are doing their part in tackling the spread of coronavirus by not using their Bibles. Instead, they are photocopying pages of the Bible and prayer books and destroying them after reading last rites. Alfred Banya is the head of chaplaincy at King's College Hospital Trust in London and said avoiding direct use of the Bible is part of new safety measures clergy are implementing. He told the Sunday Telegraph: "There are clear guidelines from faith groups about giving sacrament of the sick and anointing and I don't take prayer books or Bibles inside. "If I need to read out a prayer, I will photocopy it so I can throw it in the bin."Banya said hospital chaplains are especially busy during the coronavirus pandemic. They are responding to up to twelve end of life requests a day, which is double than what they usually do at the trust's three sites.The busyness means that they are also spending less time with patients. Before the outbreak they would spend 45 minutes with patients, but can now only spend 10 minutes. Bayna also said he has noticed an increase in medical staff wanting spiritual support to process grief they are faced with on a daily basis. 

 

Ministers were set Monday to rule on enforcing a tighter closure over eight cities and 15 ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in Jerusalem to stem the coronavirus outbreak. The cities set to be included in the decision are Tiberias, Elad, Migdal Haemek, Beitar Illit, Ashkelon, Or Yehuda, Modiin Illit, and parts of Beit Shemesh. The Jerusalem neighborhoods that are to be sealed include Har Nof, Bayit Vegan, Givat Mordechai, Ramat Shlomo, Sanhedria, Shmuel Hanavi, Beit Yisrael, Mea Shearim, Geula, Bucharim, Zichron Moshe, Ramot, Makor Baruch, Givat Shaul, and Kiryat Moshe. Ministers were also expected to approve extending the lockdown of Bnei Brak — which began on Friday after the ultra-Orthodox town recorded one of Israel’s largest outbreaks of the coronavirus — for a further week. It remains unclear what the new guidelines will be, though they will likely include a broader military presence to enforce the restrictions. Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said on Sunday night that Jerusalem would be divided into eight regions, with residents only allowed to shop for essential supplies within the borders of their regions. Israelis are already banned from venturing more than 100 meters from their homes, with exceptions made for work and purchasing essential supplies.