DC, Catholic Archdiocese settle lawsuit on church attendance caps

D.C. and the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington have settled a lawsuit over the attendance limits at indoor worship services.

D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine said that under the terms of the settlement, the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington will follow Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Dec. 16 order, which allows 250 people or 25% of a church’s capacity, whichever is fewer.

D.C. will provide advance notice of any changes to current restrictions on worship services required by evolving public health conditions.

“While some churches may now allow up to 250 worshippers to attend services, I strongly encourage residents to continue following the guidance of medical and public health experts and help stop the spread of COVID-19: stay home whenever possible and avoid spending time indoors with people outside your household,” Racine said in statement.

The Archdiocese of Washington filed a lawsuit earlier this month over D.C.’s coronavirus restrictions, arguing that the new attendance limits, imposed near the end of November, violate the First Amendment and religious freedom rights of the 650,000 Catholics in D.C. and its suburbs.

Several days after the lawsuit was filed, Bowser eased attendance caps for religious gatherings, getting rid of the 50-person limit and allowing places of worship to reach 25% capacity, up to a maximum of 250 worshipers.

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

WTOP’s Andrea Cambron and Luke Garrett contributed to this report.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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