San Diego

Few Masks, Little Social Distancing at Religious Service Despite County Presence

The County of San Diego visited a religious event "Saturate OC", Friday where gospel readings and baptisms occurred on the beach, without much social distancing or mask-wearing.

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Come Monday, when places of worship are allowed to reopen with capacity restrictions, the San Diego County will still require social distancing and masks.

The same applies, and has for a while, for outside gatherings, but that didn’t appear to be of concern for the organizers of a beachfront religious service hosted in Oceanside Friday evening by the group "Saturate OC."

Video from the event showed very little social distancing and few people wearing masks.

County officials sent a health compliance team to the event Friday night and were seen speaking with event organizers and attendees.

 “We hand out masks if people want masks. We have hand sanitizer if people want hand sanitizer," said Parker Green, an organizer with Saturate OC. "We ask at the front end but we don’t enforce it throughout the entire event. We think people are grown up enough to decide for themselves."     

Green said the pandemic has created a lot of dysfunction for people, and said church is a necessity.

“I think things are chaotic. People’s jobs have been taken away. Their normalcy, their rhythms,” said Green.

The stay at home order and subsequent closures kept San Diegans from attending church services for months, which Green and many others felt was an overstep on their First Amendment rights.

“I think it was a direct violation of the First Amendment and I think a lot of people saw that, felt that. I think it was the first time they really felt it in a place like California,” said Green.

Saturate OC's beach services are open to everyone.

“People are getting baptized in the water and as soon as they’re coming out of the water, they’re wet and they’re baptizing someone behind them," Green said.

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