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Local Officials Say Large Worship Service Puts Community At Risk

A large gathering of Bethel Church members Wednesday night at the Sundial Bridge has drawn sharp reprimands from the City of Redding and Shasta County Public Health, who are demanding that the attendees self-quarantine out of respect for their neighbors. City officials say they were not consulted about the event and organizers did not seek a permit. It’s unlikely that a permit would have been granted. As city hall points out, Americans have the right to peaceably assemble without approval from the government, but a permit is required when a large organized event is held on city property. Public health says they were not told of the event, but when they caught wind of it, they reached out to the organizers along with Turtle Bay and city officials to advise them about the precautions mandated for outdoor church services. Bethel members apparently promised that social distancing would be observed and they would be using a small battery powered amplifier for acoustic guitar and microphone. As it turned out, the event was anything but small. It was a concert by someone who traveled from out of the area, drawing hundreds of people to a small area that was inadequate to contain them and allow for social distancing. Very few of the attendees wore face coverings. It’s now clear that the event had been planned and organizers knew that it would be large and unsafe. As public health officials point out, everybody has had to make sacrifices and we’ve had to cancel our favorite local social events, including the fair, rodeo week, the Freedom Festival, concerts and everything else that binds us as a community, not to mention graduations, proms, weddings, funerals, and much more. Now, because of this Bethel Church gathering, Shasta County might wind up on the state watch list and be forced to shut down even more. We may even lose the chance to send our children back to school, and more businesses may be driven under. And that’s just not fair to the rest of us.