I just sent the following information to everyone in our ALCAP database. If you are on our "ALCAP Alert!" list, you should be receiving it in your email inbox soon. Here is what I wrote...
In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, I have been asked by several pastors about the legality of hosting a “drive-up” church service, especially for Resurrection Sunday on April 12, 2020. After talking with a representative in the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), I am more convinced than I was previously that hosting “drive-up” services is a BAD idea. If someone in your congregation or community becomes infected as a result of attending a “drive-up” service at your church, it would not be a good witness to your community.
Having said that, I was informed by the ADPH representative that churches can make a formal request for an exemption. You will be required to answer several basic questions such as (but not limited to) the following:
*How will you insure that no neighbors are riding in automobiles with an individual family?
*How will you insure that people and automobiles will remain six feet apart?
*How will you insure that people remain in their automobiles? (I read this morning of a “friendly” church member who got out of his car and began going from car to car greeting people.)
*How will you insure that nothing (for example, offering plates) are passed from automobile to automobile?
If you insist on hosting a “drive-up” service and want to request an exemption, you must contact the following individual by mail:
Mr. Brian Hale, General Counsel for the Alabama Department of Public Health
201 Monroe Street
Montgomery, AL 36104
Your request will be studied and additional questions may be asked.
When talking with the ADPH representative, I commented that many pastors and churches were observing full parking lots at Lowe’s and Home Depot. She informed me that new guidelines were about to be issued in order to stem that activity. The ADPH is very concerned about the numbers of people at those stores, as well.
As I stated above, my strong recommendation is that churches continue to hold services via online videos and live-streaming, and avoid hosting “drive-up” services. The ADPH is expecting the coronavirus to peak in Alabama sometime around April 20, so “sheltering in place” is most crucial during these next few weeks.
Be assured of my prayers for the pastors and churches of this state as you use this pandemic to minister to people in your community in very unique and unprecedented ways. (I read of a pastor who led two people to Christ through FaceTime this week!) Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
On a different, but associated matter, in an "ALCAP Alert!" a week or so ago, we informed you that church employees would not qualify for unemployment based on Alabama law. However, we just received this notice from the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions. Church employees who have been terminated and laid off do now qualify for unemployment as a result of the CARES Act which was passed by Congress. This is certainly good news! (Not as GOOD as the Good News of Jesus, but it is still good news for church staffs in Alabama!)
Here is what we received from the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions...
UPDATE: “Church employees terminated and laid off WILL receive unemployment compensation from Alabama under the CARES Act. They should file now at the Alabama Department of Labor website!” -ALDOL
The first link gives basic information; the second link gives detailed information about applying:
https://www.labor.alabama.gov/news_feed/News_Page.aspx (It is important to read what is on the home page, but then you will need to click on the drop down menu listed, “Unemployment.”)