CDC Lays Out Guidelines for Reopening Without Specific Restrictions for Religious Institutions

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is releasing its extensive reopening guidelines that were previously reportedly shelved by the White House.

On Wednesday, the federal agency published the 60-page document on its government website without a formal announcement. The released document, which is a shorter variation of the previous draft guidance, outlines the structure for a three-phased approach to reopening.

The CDC’s guidance also includes enhanced social distancing guidelines and gated criteria for the reopening of businesses, schools, and daycares. The six “gating” indicators explained in the document will also help businesses determine when they can advance to the next phase of reopening.

“This guidance sets forth a menu of safety measures, from which establishments may choose those that make sense for them in the context of their operations and local community, as well as State and local regulations and directives.”

Patrick T. Fallon/Reuters

However, the CDC has removed guidelines for religious institutions.

According to CBS-58, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights asked CDC officials to remove verbiage specifically associated with religious institutions in an effort to focus on a generalized perspective instead of singling out churches.

“This official said the guidelines needed to be more broad — giving the example of ‘no one should share a cup’ versus ‘don’t share a Communion cup,'” as the publication reports.

Roger Severino, director of the Office for Civil Rights at HHS, explained the importance of the federal government refraining from using verbiage that is exclusive to religious institutions and conduct.

“Protections against religious discrimination aren’t suspended during an emergency,” Severino said, adding, “This means the federal government cannot single out religious conduct as somehow being more dangerous or worthy of scrutiny than comparable secular behavior.”

He continued, “HHS has a duty to instruct the public on how to stay safe during this crisis and can absolutely do so without dictating to people how they should worship God.”

However, guidance specifically for religious institutions could come out at a later time, as The Washington Post cites an administration official.

View the full CDC document below:

CDC Activities Initiatives … by on Scribd

The CDC’s quiet release of the document follows reports about the White House’s decision not to release the previous version. At the time, the extensive guidance spawned confusion.

Emails obtained by the Associated Press confirmed that CDC director Robert Redfield actually cleared the guidance to be released.

However, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany claimed the document was leaked by a “rogue” employee as it was still in the editing process. Redfield also then said the document wasn’t finalized.

Noting that the guidance is not a one-size-fits-all plan, the CDC expects sequential progress to vary from community to community.

“While some communities will progress sequentially through the reopening phases, there is the possibility of recrudescence in some areas,” the CDC wrote in its guidance. “Given the potential for a rebound in the number of cases or level of community transmission, a low threshold for reinstating more stringent mitigation standards will be essential.”

As of Wednesday morning, all 50 states have now taken steps toward some form of reopening phase.


  1. Remember these are guidelines not laws. If you are sick stay home. If you’re not, live life. If you’re a scaredy-cat stay home. So far, I see no proof that shutting down the country has done anything that may not have happened anyway if we had followed my guidelines.

  2. Amid the confusion caused by Trump’s ego and the politics of re-election that many governors are much too sensitive to, we have seen more than a few states begin to ‘reopen’ WITHOUT following these guidelines. This may endanger us all in the US and the world, as the virus knows nothing of state boundaries, human behavior, politics, economics, or re-election hopes.

      1. I am confused, Multi-Friend.

        Why is it that YOU, personally, cannot accept that the most incompetent Dear Leader has bungled handling this country’s response to the Trump Virus, and that OTHERS must be blamed? He dithered and downplayed the whole thing for at least 6 weeks, he praised China’s response (until he needed a scapegoat to blame for his failure, to deflect from his own mess), and what did he buy us? 100,000 of OUR OWN deaths!

        And you are O.K. with that? You are going to let him off the hook for that? That just boggles the mind (of any sane person), Multi-Friend.

  3. Thanks, Meaghan, for linking the full CDC guideline document! Good idea.

    Hopefully IJR readers will read it themselves, to glean how best to protect themselves, family members, friends and everyone’s co-workers.

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