NewsRegion C Palm Beach County

Actions

Cidra Church facing fines for holding large outdoor services without permit

'We're here to spread the love of Jesus Christ and you can't do that 6 feet apart,' attendee says
Cidra Church sign
Posted at 11:51 PM, Feb 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-06 23:51:18-05

PALM SPRINGS, Fla. — Members of a Palm Springs church said Saturday they're being fined upwards of $5,000 for holding large outdoor services in the parking lot.

On the front doors of Cidra Church, a violation notice is posted stating that no permit was ever obtained to hold the outdoor events.

"Well, what you're seeing right now is an unprecedented assault on freedom of religion in the United States of America," said Chris Nelson, attendee and co-founder of Reopen South Florida.

Chris Nelson, supporter of large outdoor gatherings at Cidra Church
"Well, what you're seeing right now is an unprecedented assault on freedom of religion in the United States of America," Chris Nelson, an attendee and co-founder of Reopen South Florida, tells WPTV.

Under the direction of Gov. Ron DeSantis, churches in the state are allowed to operate at full capacity.

"We're here to spread the love of Jesus Christ and you can't do that 6 feet apart," said Nelson.

At Saturday night's event, masks were optional and hundreds of people were seen close together.

large outdoor event hosted by Cidra Church
Hundreds of people are seen close together at a large outdoor event hosted by Cidra Church in Palm Springs.

"You are going to find people are going to get sick from that, there's no question in my mind about that," said infectious disease Dr. Leslie Diaz.

Diaz said large gatherings without social distancing and masks increase community spread of the coronavirus.

"You either you do it the right way or you don't, and if you don't, you face the negative impact that this brings to the community as a spreader event," said Diaz.

"Ultimately, you know, the way we see it is, we're protected by it," said attendee Giovanni Barazza. "You know, God's got our backs."

violation notice on door of Cidra Church
A violation notice is taped to the door of Cidra Church.

Those at the church said their services should be able to operate at full capacity.

"People are out here," said Barazza. "You know, they're believing what they believe. They're doing what they want to do as far as, you know, following what they want to follow. I don't think there's anything wrong with that."

WPTV has contacted the village of Palm Springs for comment.

"I'm so glad to be part of this, where people are taking a stand and saying, 'No, you can't shut us down,'" said Nelson.