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Virginia’s 9 mandatory Phase One requirements for churches, other religious services

Virginia government breaks down what services will look like during Phase One

In it are nine mandatory requirements for how in-person services must operate while Virginia remains in Phase One:

  1. Occupancy is limited to no more than 50% of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy of the room or facility where the service is happening
  2. Those attending services must be seated at least 6 feet apart at all times, excluding family members, who may be seated together. Virginia defines family members including blood relations, adopted, step, and foster relations, as well as all individuals residing in the same household.
  3. Seating must be marked in 6-foot increments.
  4. It’s recommended that those at services be encouraged to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth at all times
  5. No items may be passed to or between attendees who are not family members
  6. Any items used to distribute food or beverages must be disposable and used only once and discarded
  7. A thorough cleaning and disinfection of frequently contacted surfaces must be conducted before and after any service
  8. Signage posted at the building’s entrance that states that no one with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19, or known exposure to a COVID-19 case in the prior 14 days, is allowed to enter.
  9. Signage posted to provide public health reminders regarding social distancing, gatherings, options for high-risk individuals and staying home if sick. Click here for a CDC printable flyer.

Houses of worship are told that if they cannot adhere to these requirements, in-person services are not allowed.

Beyond those mandates, the governor’s office released a variety of best practices for those who are able to hold in-person services.

  • Designate a health coordinator and/or form a health equity team that will be responsible for coronavirus planning and preparation
  • For the building itself:
    • Conduct thorough cleaning before and between services
    • Use separate doors to enter and exit the establishment, when possible
    • Allow interior doors to remain open, as to limit the touching of door handles
    • Provide sanitizing stations throughout the building, particularly at the entrance and exit
    • Consider installing touchless door entry systems or providing single-use barriers (i.e., paper towels) for use in touching door and sink handles in bathrooms
    • Use messaging boards or digital messaging and social media for announcements, eliminating the need of bulletins and handouts
  • During weekly religious services:
    • Churches and other religious services are continued to provide and encourage the use of online streaming as members are safer at home
    • No place of worship should feel obligated to return to in-person worship before they are ready to do so
    • Consider holding multiple services with time for thorough cleaning in between each service, to allow for greater distancing during services.
    • Suspend the choir as part of services
    • Consider shorter services to avoid the need for people to use the bathroom
    • Consider limiting or suspending youth services until a safer time
    • Consider holding small group or separate services for senior citizens and other high-risk populations.
    • If taking this route:
      • Consider making this the first service of the week, after thorough cleaning and disinfection of facilities have been performed.
      • Ensure the use of face coverings and physical distancing is maintained between individuals at this service
      • Ensure social distancing in parking lots or common areas
    • Consider discontinuing use of common items (e.g., microphones, books, hymnals, scriptural texts) that may be shared between people and are difficult to clean.
    • Consider assigning religious books to a family or individual that they can bring to each service, or use a projector for the display of sacred texts, scriptures, and songs.
    • When oils, water, ashes, or other materials are applied to a person’s forehead, self-application should be used, to the extent possible.
    • Discontinue shared meals and other activities where people may gather in groups (e.g., limit or suspend coffee stations, shared food, meet and greet time before and after services etc.), with the exception of essential food services for low-income residents

The guidelines distributed by the state also outline six different possible methods for religious services:

Drive-in/parking lot church

The guidelines describe this as a safer model of religious service where social distancing may be maintained.

Sign-up worship services

Ask members, visitors, or guests to sign up for one live service per month, or every other week (in Phase 1). If needed, members can take turns between online and in-person worship services during this interim time. Allow space for impromptu visitors by registering fewer people (for each worship or religious service) than the maximum allowed per the occupancy restrictions.

Multiple gatherings during the week

A place of worship may divide the number of congregants by the maximum occupancy level and offer worship services at that level. Consider adding online services, multiple services on one day, or alternative services during the week and/or on Saturdays and Sundays.

Utilizes multiple methods

As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, most places of worship lost the ability to gather in-person, but many gained a stronger online presence. Consider nurturing
both aspects for at-risk individuals, as well as for the increased capacity to reach and serve those outside of the walls of the faith organization.

Adult-only services

This method asks parents of young children to alternate worship attendance (naturally reducing attendance, as one parent stays home with children).


Take this approach if you are in a high-risk area, your place of worship is not yet prepared with the conditions outlined in the state guidelines for opening, you or a member of your family has COVID-19 symptoms, or the governing authorities have requested additional measures in the interest of public health.

For those seeking more information, members and leaders of the diverse faith communities and funeral homes across Virginia can receive a signage tool-kit and register to receive updated information from the Governor’s Office of Diversity and Partners in Prayer and Prevention from the Virginia Department of Health by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Zion Baptist Church Operations and Helpful Info

During the COVID-19 Crisis


Detailed Info


Until further notice, we will discontinue physical worship at our Sanctuary until further notice. Sunday Worship services will be conducted via our ZBC livestream and Facebook Live. Services will begin at 11:00 a.m. on Sundays, both on Facebook live as well as ZBC Livestreaming. You may review both services on your mobile device, tablet or via a Laptop or desktop computer. Should you encounter any problems in setting up or preparing for viewing our Sunday Services, you can email your questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or CALL 757.348.7992 OR 757.477.1807. We kindly ask that you conduct a test run of your access to the websites below, PRIOR to Sunday Service if possible. However, if encountering issues during service, please feel free to text or call the numbers provided, and someone will call you back if unable to answer.

FACEBOOK Live: You must have a Facebook account to access our ZBC Facebook page. If you do not have one, you can establish a FB account or utilize the account of someone else with their permission. Go to our Facebook page; ZBC/Portsmouth; and services will begin at 11:00 a.m. You may also revisit Facebook to replay the service at any time.

ZBC LIVESTREAM: Users may view services livestream by selecting a link from our website (zionbaptistva.com) OR by using the direct url: zbc.churchonline.org. Either option works.

We strongly urge all members to continue with your faithful giving during this time, as Zion Baptist Church Information worksheet Current as of 3/20/20 we continue to be responsible for the financial obligations in maintaining the church. You may donate online via the church’s website (zionbaptistva.com) (see “GIVING” at top of our Homepage; OR if choosing to donate while viewing directly at zbc.churchonline.org, simply select the GIVE link located above the livestream chat box. Members may donate during service or visit the church website at any time during the week.

*We hope to utilize other apps that will also make it more convenient and handier in the nearby future.

Donating by Postal Mail: Members may also mail their tithes and offerings to the church, addressing to:
Zion Baptist Church
225 Hatton Street.
Portsmouth, VA 23704


We will be livestreaming our bible study on Wednesdays. Instructions for accessing livestream are the same as the instructions provided above for livestreaming Sunday Service.


We offer the following ways to contact the Church:
Calling the Church: 757.397.1671
Texting the Church: 877.443.1671
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Note: It will be vitally important that you provide us an accurate/updated email address or provide us a Poc that can receive the updates for you and can relay the info to you to keep you informed.

CONGREGATIONAL CARE/ “Staying in Touch with Our Members”

REMEMBER: You are not alone during this time. We will continue to utilize varying options to stay close to our ZBC family. In the absence of services and gatherings, and while observing “social distancing” guidelines, our members can expect personal “wellness check” phone calls from our Diaconate, “Pastor’s Weekly Check-In”, (robo call) and other ZBC communications via phone, email or texting. Meantime, if you have a need for personal prayer, we ask that you contact your assigned DEACON directly or the church office for relaying your prayer request.


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