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Christians at drive-in service at Church of God, April 26, 2020, Aylmer, Ontario. CTV / Video screen grab

SACRAMENTO, April 30, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — California’s Democrat governor, Gavin Newsom, on Tuesday released his proposal for resuming normal life following the COVID-19 outbreak, a four-stage plan that would leave churches closed for “months.”

California is currently in Stage 1, ABC 7 reports, with the general public staying at home and all “nonessential” businesses shut down. In a few weeks, Department of Public Health director Dr. Sonia Angell says, the state can move on to Stage 2, which would reopen “lower risk workplaces” such as manufacturing, schools, child care facilities, and offices. Additional retailers would be allowed to offer curbside pickup services as well.

The second half of the plan is “months, not weeks” away, according to Angell.

Stage 3 would see the reopening of places defined as “higher risk” due to the close proximity of people inside to one another, including religious services, beauty salons, gyms, and movie theaters. Later, Stage 4 would represent a complete end to the lockdown.

To evaluate when to move on from stage to stage, California officials will monitor several factors, including expanded testing, protections for those most susceptible to COVID-19 (the elderly and the immuno-compromised), hospital capacity, development of treatment options, and continued observance of “social distancing.”

“This is going to be a while, but there are ways we can modify the way we move around in our environment that will make it more possible (to reopen),” Angell said.

So far, California’s 40-million population has seen 46,500 known COVID-19 cases (out of 603,139 tests) and 1,887 deaths. As part of state and local officials’ response, Californians have been ticketed for standing outside abortion centers, forbidden from singing even in online church services, and encouraged by leaders to report their neighbors for alleged violations of the stay-at-home order.

Last week, Cross Culture Christian Center in Lodi filed a lawsuit against Newsom’s prohibition of religious gatherings. The state did back down on its prohibition against gathering in church parking lots and listening to services from within the safety of one’s car.

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