Ordinance pushes to reopen Fresno's places of worship

Fresno city officials and religious leaders are joining together in hopes of reopening the doors of churches and other places of worship.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Seats and stages sit empty inside places of worship for weeks now.

But city officials and religious leaders are hoping to change that with an ordinance pushing for the reopening of sacred centers.

Fresno City councilman Mike Karbassi says the proposal would allow places of worship to reopen if they maintain social distancing.

"Coming together to worship helps people emotionally. The majority of them want to be back to in-person services as soon as possible," says Karbassi.

Pastor Kevin Foster at Lifebridge Community Church, as well as leaders at Sikh Institute Fresno, say they're ready to welcome back members.

But some, like leaders of the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno, say they'd rather not risk it.

Says Reza Nekumanesh, the ICCF's executive director: "We want our center and the health of our community members to be made by stats and numbers and public health. We're going to make decisions based on health experts. The health of our members come first."

"We want our center and the health of our community members to be made by stats and numbers and public health. We're going to make decisions based on health experts. The health of our members come first," says rabbi Rick Winer.

Rabbi Rick Winer of Temple Beth Israel says along with not wanting to put his members' health in jeopardy, they also don't want to turn anyone away.

"To say everyone else can come in and you can't - that seems horrible."

Karbassi says they'd need the approval of both the state and county before moving forward, which will be discussed next week during an emergency meeting.

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