Due to extremely cold conditions, the City is implementing special measures to keep people who are homeless safe. If you see someone who needs shelter, call (215) 232-1984.
In effect: 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 04 to 9:00 a.m. on Monday, March 08

COVID-19 vaccine

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Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Religious institution guidance

The following is intended as a plain-language summary of rules during the COVID-19 emergency and does not replace the need to follow all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations.

Protections Needed


  • Provide masks for staff including the leader or celebrant and require them to mask when on site except only:
    • As necessary for the staff member to eat or drink during break times. The staff member should be seated at least 6 feet from others when taking off mask.
  • Require all congregants to mask while on site, except for children under age 2.


  • If it is your practice to have the service leader or celebrant sing, place a clear plastic shield/barrier that extends well above the service leader’s head between the service leader and the congregation.


  • Screen every staff member for symptoms before every shift and prevent them from remaining on site if they have cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, muscle pain, or new loss of taste or smell.
  • It is not necessary to conduct onsite temperature measurement for staff or visitors. If you measure temperatures, use a no-touch thermometer, and do not allow anyone with a temperature of 100.4 or higher to remain onsite.
  • Have sick leave policies in place so that employees excluded from the workplace do not lose earnings
  • If an employee develops COVID-19 infection or has a positive test, businesses and other organizations must take additional precautions to stop the virus from spreading further.


  • Use signage to encourage individuals/family groups to space themselves at least 6 feet from others.
  • Use floor decals or other visual cues to encourage spacing of at least 6 feet between attendees.
  • Use signage or floor markings to have one-way aisles or otherwise direct attendees to follow certain pathways for entering and exiting the service.
  • Direct row by row exiting after the service.
  • Rope off rows of chairs or pews so that congregants can only sit in every 3rd row and 6 feet away from other households.
  • For gatherings where congregants pray on mats, separate mats by at least 6 feet or use other visual cues to congregants to separate.
  • Congregants should be encouraged to proceed to their seats and remain there throughout the service.
  • Consider using contactless door openers to avoid having each person touch door handles.
  • Separate service leader from front row of congregants and from other service leaders by at least 20 feet (6 feet is likely to be inadequate because of vocal projection and/or singing).
  • Avoid choirs. Any performances must follow the Indoor live theater, music venue, and movie theater guidance.

Reduce crowds

  • Indoor events and gatherings are limited to 15% of maximum occupancy regardless of venue size. Outdoor events and gatherings are limited to 20% of maximum occupancy.
  • Food may not be served at indoor services.
  • At outdoor services food may be consumed if no more than 100 people are present.
  • Consider having people sign up for in person services to prevent overcrowding or turning congregants away.
  • Continue to offer remote service options even after in-person services resume to offer a safe option to those at high risk and to allow for greater physical distancing of in-person attendees.
  • If possible, offer staggered service times to increase physical distancing.
  • Avoid unplanned communal gatherings pre- or post-service.


  • Place handwashing stations or hand sanitizer at entry and outside communal bathrooms for all staff and congregants with prominent signage promoting use.
  • Give staff hourly handwashing breaks.


  • Wipe down high-touch surfaces with disinfectant at least every 4 hours. See CDC guidance for details.
  • Clean spaces and items used by staff or congregants between uses unless those items remain unused for at least 4 days between uses. Spaces that remain empty for at least 4 days do not require special cleaning.


  • If possible, increase ventilation in the building by either:
    • Opening windows and/or doors on opposite sides of the building and using fans to blow outside air through the building OR
    • Optimizing ventilation provided by the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system by:
      • Having the HVAC system checked to assure that it is working properly. If it can be adjusted, the system should be set to provide at least 6 air exchanges per hour.
      • Maximizing the amount of outside air circulated by the system.
      • Installing filters with minimum efficiency reporting values (MERV) of 13, or the highest compatible with the filter rack. It is not necessary to use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters or ultraviolet light irradiation systems.
      • Checking that the external air inlet duct is not blocked and that it is at least 15 feet from people.


  • Educate staff and congregants about symptoms and prevention of COVID-19.
  • Ask people who are sick or who have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 within the past 10 days to not enter, stay home, and follow CDC quarantine guidelines.  If you do not have any symptoms, you may end your quarantine period after:
    • Day 10 without testing OR,
    • Day 7 after receiving a negative test result (lab-based or rapid) after day 5.
  • Persons who have been fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine when exposed to someone with COVID-19 if they meet all of the following criteria:
    • They are fully vaccinated, and it’s been at least 2 weeks after the last dose in the vaccine series,
    • They are within 3 months following receipt of the last dose in the series; AND,
    • They have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure.
  • Vaccination is not 100% effective.
    • Anyone who develops COVID-19 symptoms should get tested.
    • Anyone who is positive for COVID-19 must isolate according to CDC guidelines.
    • After vaccination you must still wear a mask, keep your distance, and avoid crowds.
  • Post prominent signs at entrances and in staff break rooms (if applicable):
    • Encouraging people to cover coughs or sneezes.
    • Mandating physical distancing of at least 6 feet.
    • Mandating that all staff and congregants wear masks.


  • Ask that congregants not sing. Humming (inside a mask) and clapping are safer ways for congregants to participate.
  • Do not share items such as communion cups.
  • Temporarily suspend practices that involve passing items from hand to hand or from hand to mouth.
  • Consider alternatives to passing plate for donations (e.g. fixed donation box near entrance) to avoid passing items from hand to hand.
  • Food and drink should not be served or consumed at indoor services or gatherings until further notice.
  • If the institution offers childcare during services, follow Childcare and early childhood education centers guidance.

Note: Organizations that also maintain offices for operations must adhere to Office guidance in their offices.

See also:

  • Text COVIDPHL to 888-777 to receive updates to your phone.
  • Call (800) 722-7112 to speak to a health care professional on the Greater Philadelphia Coronavirus Helpline.