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Places of worship welcome back 100% capacity for first time in more than a year

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    ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (KOAT) — Even though the state said churches could allow everyone back, the Archbishop of Santa Fe is asking priests to limit the crowds and stay with the color-coded risk level their county is in, but others are ready to welcome back their congregation.

Sunday, April 25, 2021, was the first day in more than a year that places of worship could invite back all of their congregation for in-person worship.

“I’m praying that all the people that have been staying away will come back,” said God’s House Church Bishop Michael L. Shelby.

This all because the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states cannot enforce capacity limits on churches that are more restrictive than other entities, like factories or schools.

Regardless of the color-coded risk level their county is in, places of worship can now welcome back 100% capacity if they want to.

“It makes me feel excited. I’m very excited, but also cautious,” said Shelby.

At God’s House Church, they said they weren’t even close to having full capacity during Sunday’s service.

“We’ve had low numbers already as it is. So, hopefully little by little, so hopefully people will start coming little by little now that the vaccine is out,” said Tanya Devargas, Praise Dance Director.

And it might take a while before they see that many people back inside.

“We still have the virus, people are still afraid and having been closed down so long, people are somewhat reluctant to come back to the house of god,” said Shelby.

New Mexico state leaders are strongly encouraging houses of worship to still have capacity limits, even though they are not required anymore. Parishioners are still required to follow COVID-safe practices, like wearing a mask and social distancing.

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