Religious services in Florida may not be suspended during emergencies under a new measure signed into law in June.
According to SB 254 no emergency order may directly or indirectly prohibit a religious institution from conducting regular religious services or activities so long as other in-person events or business operations are allowed to take place.
The new law states, “An emergency order authorized by this part may not directly or indirectly prohibit a religious institution from conducting regular religious services or activities.
However, a general provision in an emergency order which applies uniformly to all entities in the affected jurisdiction may be applied to a religious institution if the provision is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.”
The measure was introduced in response to some situations in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic during which many churches were either forced to close or reduce the occurrence of regular services or activities.
The new law becomes effective in July.