'God given right:' Christmas carolers in California defy orders, sing without masks
NAPA, Calif. - Dozens of Christmas carolers in the North Bay are using the holiday tradition as a way to protest the latest stay-at-home orders from the state of California.
On Wednesday, many carolers came out to sing "Holy Night" and other holiday songs at Veterans Park, many without masks.
They said the objective was to gather friends, family and strangers to celebrate the spirit of Christmas, and to show support for the Napa business community.
"We want to get people together, we don't want to be walked on," said Kelly Health. "We have a God-given right to be free."
Francine Knittel added: "Everything that's been inflicted upon us right now is unconstitutional and illegal. We have every right to be out here singing to the Lord, singing to Jesus, celebrating Christmas."
In a statement, Napa County Health Department said that "given the significant spread of COVID-19, our individual actions matter now more than ever," and the agency urged people to stay home.
A federal judge this week ruled that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s shutdown of indoor worship services in most of California is a valid measure to protect public health and protects religious freedom by allowing outdoor services, unlike the New York restrictions struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Chronicle reported.
U.S. District Judge Jesus Bernal of Riverside, ordered to review Newsom’s current restrictions under the Supreme Court’s standards, said Newsom's ban on indoor religious services in all counties except Mariposa, Sierra and Alpine are justified and non-discriminatory.
"The state has a compelling interest in curbing the spread of what is now the world’s deadliest infectious disease," Bernal said. "This is why it is safer for individuals to be farther apart as opposed to closer together. This is why outdoor gatherings are safer than indoor gatherings. This is why singing and shouting, which expel more viral droplets, are riskier activities than sitting silently."
That didn't sit well with the carolers.
In addition to singing, organizers passed around flyers in support of efforts to recall Newsom.