‘God-given rights’: Churches rejoice that state’s new COVID rules don’t apply to them

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Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 6:13 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 11, 2021 at 7:00 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On Wednesday, the governor’s office corrected a statement Ige made on Tuesday about the new COVID restrictions applying to churches — they don’t.

Churches are exempt from the new gathering limits. The religious community is happy about that.

“The mandate is a bit confusing. I believe not just for the churches, but for the people of Hawai’i as well,” said Kipi Higa, New Hope Kahului Senior Pastor.

Higa said he’s glad the governor retracted his statement because the pastor feels houses of worship are different.

“There is an overreach on behalf of the government. The way that we meet here at church is, we meet with freedom. So if people want to gather together masked, or unmasked, they’re free to do so, if they want to sit right next to each other or social distance, they’re free to do so,” Higa said.

But churches aren’t exempt from infections.

In the past month, the Department of Health has reported clusters linked to places of worship in all four main counties.

Higa says that doesn’t mean churches should face restrictions.

“Some of our critics who say you’re dangerous, but we believe that the people are smart, and wise, and they can regulate their own health.”

The state still has indoor mask and social-distancing mandates, but Higa said the government doesn’t have jurisdiction over churches.

“It’s within our rights, our God-given rights, and the constitution which the government should be supporting. And so, because of that, I believe they did the right thing to say that we can gather, because we should be able to gather,” he said.

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