High court tells Santa Clara it can't bar in-person worship

The Supreme Court is telling California's Santa Clara County that it can't enforce a ban on indoor religious worship services put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The high court issued an order Friday evening in a case brought by a handful of churches.

The court in early February told California that it can't bar indoor church services because of the pandemic. The justices said at the time that the state could cap indoor services at 25% of a building's capacity and continue to bar singing and chanting. But Santa Clara had argued that its temporary ban on indoor gatherings of any kind should be allowed to stand.

Santa Clara County Emergency Operations Center and the county's Department of Public Health issued a statement in response.

"The U.S. Supreme Court this afternoon issued an order allowing indoor worship services to resume at 20% capacity in Santa Clara County, reversing the Ninth Circuit’s decision," the statement read. 

It continued, "We are disappointed in the U.S. Supreme Court’s order regarding indoor worship services," said James R. Williams, County Counsel. "The Supreme Court order was issued without any analysis at all of the County’s gathering rules, which have always been neutral and applied equally to all gatherings across-the-board. Indoor gatherings of all kinds remain very risky, and we continue to urge all religious institutions to carefully follow the public health recommendations to avoid spread of COVID-19 among their congregations and the broader community."

KTVU contributed to this report.