Coronavirus: California church defies COVID-19 mandate, holds indoor services

NEWBURY PARK, Calif. — A California pastor on Sunday defied an emergency temporary restraining order barring him from holding additional indoor worship services amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Pastor Rob McCoy of Godspeak Calvary Chapel in Newbury Park ignored the order issued Friday and held indoor services Sunday, KCAL reported.

According to the TV station, McCoy first reopened the house of worship on Palm Sunday only, insisting parishioners practice social distancing. He then reopened for indoor services in mid-June as restrictions were eased temporarily but refused to stop holding the services when California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a new ban on large gatherings in response to skyrocketing infection rates statewide in July.

On Friday, Ventura County Superior Court Judge Matthew Guasco issued a two-week temporary restraining order banning the church from holding services indoors. A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 31, KABC reported.

The county had sued the church, arguing that it threatened public safety, but the church has argued that the health risk is small and that the orders violate freedom of expression. McCoy said that no COVID-19 cases have been reported to him by congregants, the TV station reported.

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