This refers to your Feb. 19 front-page article in which Maine’s Catholic bishop, Robert Deeley, objected to our governor’s limit on church attendance to 50 people, or five per 1,000 square feet of space.

The Rev. Philip Tracy says Mass at Holy Martyrs Church in Falmouth last Thursday. Bishop Robert Deeley of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland called the governor’s updated order limiting the number of people in churches “unacceptable.” Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Our governor is wrong on the law, wrong on the science and even wrong on the math.

On Feb. 6, the U.S. Supreme Court required California to open its churches to at least 25 percent of capacity. And California has a COVID case rate over double that of Maine (8,855 per 100,000 population versus 3,182 per 100,000, as of Feb. 19). Plus, Maine has a colder climate.

The federal Centers for Disease for Control and Prevention continues (as of Feb. 19) to say that gatherings should require masks, 6 feet social distancing, blocking off rows, using multiple entrances and exits, asking people to stay 6 feet apart if there’s a line and physical guides or tape on the floor. Our houses of worship have done all that and more.

Finally, the math: Science says 6 feet apart, so five per 1,000 square feet is just arbitrary.

One thousand square feet might be 10 feet by 100 feet, so five people would be 20 feet apart. If it’s 20 feet by 50 feet, 10 people would be 10 feet apart. But worshippers usually go as family or household units. A family of five wouldn’t be within a hymnbook’s throw of the next family.

Gov. Mills, open our churches, temples and mosques, so we can feed our souls.

Allan Neff
Scarborough

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