Illinois Eases Restrictions on In-Person Worship Services After Churches Appealed to Supreme Court

Security officers walk outside the Supreme Court building in Washington. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has eased restrictions on in-person worship services in new coronavirus stay-at-home guidelines after churches appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court for relief.

In a daily news briefing Thursday, Pritzker announced a new health department guidance for faith leaders seeking to resume in-person worship services, recommending they do so at 25% capacity or a 100-person maximum  — whichever is lower — under phase three of the state’s reopening plan.

“Having received many plans and ideas from responsible faith leaders, [Illinois Department of Public Health] has reviewed many detailed proposals and has provided guidance, not mandatory restrictions, for all faith leaders to use in their efforts to ensure the health and safety of their congregants,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker said the safest option is for churches to continue with online services and drive-in services. However, he said churches that want to resume in-person services can use the state’s new guidelines to help combat the spread of the virus.

“Places of worship should develop a COVID-19 plan and be prepared to adapt to updated public health guidance and to restrict in-person activities if the incidence of COVID-19 within their communities increases,” the guidance reads.

“Places of worship should provide training to both staff and congregants on their COVID-19 plans and should share the new safety protocols and processes by email, video, mail, and posted signage – with frequent updates as new safety protocols are implemented.”

The guidelines state that churches should expand capacity limits “gradually” to allow the opportunity to test safety protocols. Additionally, the guidelines encourage churches to hold “multiple small services as opposed to one large service.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith

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