Scientology stays open, but says its virus prevention is the best 'on Earth' - 2020-03-30
While the global pandemic has prompted religious organizations to suspend congregating or transition to virtual services, Scientology has not halted the practices that have parishioners and staff interacting in person. Paid services are one of the primary sources of income for the organization, and the system is kept functioning by the full-time Sea Org.
Last week, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties enacted orders directing residents to stay home except for essential activity like trips for groceries, medical needs and jobs deemed essential. The "safer at home" orders permit non-essential businesses to operate as long as patrons follow federal social distancing guidelines to keep at least 6 feet apart in groups no larger than 10 people.
The orders did not include religious exemptions. While churches across Tampa Bay and the nation have suspended services, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office on Monday arrested River at Tampa Bay Church Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne after he hosted Sunday services that drew hundreds. He was warned by deputies not to host the congregation.