California Governor Gavin Newsom has avoided placing blame for closing churches and keeping Hollywood open during the coronavirus pandemic, saying that the state “didn’t know” what it was doing at the time.
The state of California, under Newsom, has come under fire for closing religious venues in mid-March while allowing big film and television productions, such as The Bachelor and The Voice, to continue filming during the same time period.
In an interview with KCBS-TV News, the governor said when California shut down churches, there was a lack of knowledge around how the virus spread.
“At the time, we didn’t know Chuch services were as safe as they are,” he said. “We didn’t know what we know now.”
The governor also said that the state has worked hard to develop a better understanding of the virus, and that the guidelines have become more nuanced as scientists have collected more data and evidence.
“Now, if you fast-forward—and hindsight’s 20-20—we now understand that religious services have been one of the least likely places for transmission, and we’ve proven that out through our data,” Newsom said.
When questioned about the decision to leave Hollywood film companies open during the pandemic, Newsom said that the movie industry has educated itself on safety protocols and has been able to maintain safety even while filming.
“The movie industry, to their credit, came up with a protocol and a plan that demonstrated how you can film safely,” Newsom said.
California’s decision to close churches in mid-March, while leaving Hollywood open has been met with considerable backlash from some Christian and religious organizations. The move has been challenged in court by some church organizations who argue that it is unconstitutional to allow film companies to continue producing amid the crisis while forcing places of worship to shut down.