RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Some Riverside County businesses that had opened were required to close again after the county moved back into the most restrictive ''purple tier'' under the governor's color-coded coronavirus reopening plan.
"This back and forth is a nightmare," said pastors from churches in Riverside County, which join restaurants and gyms in having to move all their services outside.
At Sandals Church in Riverside, they were using a large covered auditorium, which they are getting ready — again.
Still, with the recent 110 plus temperatures and Santa Ana Wind season fast approaching, they can only wonder how long this can go on.
"I believe COVID is real," said Pastor Matt Brown. "And we are not doubting that precautions are necessary, but I just flew in a plane that was filled with people sitting next to each other, and that seems to be ok with the governor of California, as are protests, sales at huge box stores."
"We are here by choice, we are not forcing anyone to come," he added. "We have spent thousands of dollars on physical upgrades to satisfy what health officials wanted."
Even some Catholic churches, which have abided quietly with the limitations, are finding it difficult. Sacred Heart, in Palm Desert for example, where 120-degree heat does not lend itself to outdoor communion, let alone, a full service.
"At what point does this stop?" asked Pastor Brown.
He echoed the point that other religious leaders have stressed, that churches are essential, especially during COVID times, when suicide rates have gone up.
Brown says that virtual counseling is not enough. He insists it’s about rights and for the faithful, a matter of principle, not politics.
Weather forecasts for this weekend seem to be on the cooler side, but it’s only a matter of time before the weather turns too hot or cold, too windy or wet. What will they do?
"We will not turn people away," was the usual answer.