Hudson church says ‘masks will be optional’ for Easter services

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HUDSON, Ohio (WJW) – As churches across Northeast Ohio prepare to hold Easter services with COVID-19 precautions in place, one announced face masks will not be required at services.

Christ Community Chapel in Hudson said masks will be optional at most of its Easter services, according to a post on the church’s Facebook page.

“We will all wear masks when we come into the service, you can sit down, then the masks become optional,” Pastor Joe Coffey said in a video posted to the page. “If that makes you uncomfortable, you can go to East Hall and experience it with social distance and masks.”

An ongoing Ohio health order implemented in July requires face coverings at any indoor location that’s not a residence, including churches. The officiant of a religious service is exempt from the mandate.

Christ Community Chapel declined to comment on its decision not to require masks for all services.

In the Facebook post, Coffey said masks will be required at one Easter service and in an overflow seating area.

“I know there are strong feelings all across,” Coffey said in the video. “I’ve heard the strong feelings. Let’s be gracious. Let’s just be gracious.”

Other churches continue to require masks in accordance with the state health order.

The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland said masks and social distancing remain required at its churches, including for Holy Week and Easter.

“These are common practices to keep people safe,” Executive Director of Communications Jim Armstrong said. “Our parishes have been working hard, they’ve gotten information throughout the year about safety practices and put them in place, and they’re continuing to do them.”

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has said all health orders, including the mask mandate, will be lifted when COVID-19 case levels drop below 50 per 100,000 people.

This week, that rate ticked up slightly from last, to about 147.

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