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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – As COVID-19 positivity rates continue to spike, schools aren’t the only places abruptly altering their policies to protect those inside. First Baptist Church is making some changes to protect its congregation.

“The phrase that kept coming to me is ‘here we go again,’ and it’s so disappointing,” Lead Pastor Travis Collins said.

He and his team made a tough decision to reinstate a number of policies to protect against COVID-19. Those changes start effective immediately.

A few changes include daily temperature checks for staff and social distancing for the congregation. They will encourage all to start wearing masks again, but with more young people getting sick during this surge, Collins says masking is a necessity for some.

“Required masks for children ages 2 through 11 and all their teachers and workers, because they’re the most vulnerable, they’re the ones who cannot be vaccinated,” Collins said.

The new rules are not just to protect the congregation, but the ministers too.

“Even if we don’t get really sick, we still have to quarantine as we understand it so this place could come to a screeching halt even if we just test positive,” he said.

Collins said the majority of the congregation is vaccinated, but urges those who aren’t to reconsider.

“If the overwhelming majority of scientists and healthcare workers are right, as I believe they are, and I don’t encourage people to get vaccinated then shame on me,” he said.

He said while it is frustrating to bring back some old policies, the team is willing to make tough decisions now to prevent suspending services again like they had to do last year.

“It is so important for people emotionally, psychologically, spiritually to be together, that’s how God wired us, that we sure hope we don’t have to — we want to be careful now so we don’t have to suspend in-person worship in the future,” Collins said.

First baptist church is playing it safe for months to come.

Collins says musicians looking to be part of the iconic Living Christmas Tree performance this holiday season is required to be vaccinated.

Although, He is hoping by then, all of this could be in the rearview mirror.

See the full list of changes below:

For all church events:

  • They require masks for children ages 2-11, and for their teachers and workers.
  • They recommend masks for everyone.
  • When food is involved, they ask people to follow safe practices (social distancing, sanitizing, etc.).
  • In any gathering, please practice social distancing as much as is possible.
  • They strongly recommend vaccinations for everyone qualified. 

For Sunday morning worship:

  • They will go back to the practice of social distancing in both worship services. 

For Wednesdays in the Fellowship Hall:

  • They will serve boxed suppers and sit four people per table.

For the Office:

  • They will limit access to the office during office hours. 

For the Living Christmas Tree:

  • Vaccinations will be required for all singers and instrumentalists.