SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Savannah Mayor Van Johnson and members of Savannah Faith, the City’s committee of faith-based community leaders, host a news conference at City Hall Thursday morning.

Johnson created the task force to guide the safe reopening of houses of worship in the City of Savannah while preventing the spread of COVID-19.

The group announced its recommendation houses of worship remain closed.

The task force says after discussions in three meetings and considering CDC recommendations the group came to their decision.

“Houses of worship are considered hot spots and we also have to remember that even if we do decide to open what are the results going to be,” said Rabbi Robert Haas, with Congregation Mickve Israel.

Seventy-five churches, synagogues, and mosques leaders decided those results could be deadly. Many of them also adding that virtual services are growing their congregations and inspiring innovation.

“Our older members are particularly enjoying these services,” said Reverend Lolita Hickman, with Trinity Baptist Church. “I think everything will change inside and outside the churches and places of worship.”

The task force is providing more than 30 guidelines for places of worship that decide to reopen against their recommendation.

Johnson says the city will not enforce those guidelines, but hopes churches and synagogues that do open, will follow the rules.

“Who be it for us to be involved in matters of faith at that level,” said Johnson.

Johnson says as far as he knows most of city’s faith leaders are on the same page, in fact, some of them feel more unified than ever.

“All of these congregations that are coming together have a vast range of political and religious views from all the way from one side to the other,” said Haas, “yet we come together united for certain purposes as opposed to arguing over certain ideas.”

The Mayor’s office is coordinating participation in the task force, so any clergy or congregations interested in participating in meetings can contact them at 912-651-6444. Anyone needing technological or financial help should reach out directly to the task force participants who are using creative options.

Watch the complete news conference in the video below.