Report: Under governor’s plan, large church services could be put on hold in Illinois for months due to COVID-19

The Democrat governor of Illinois has chosen to take a very cautious approach to reopening his state in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s five-phase plan, gatherings of more than 50 people — including church services — are delayed until the fifth phase of reopening, even if it takes more than a year to get to that stage, the Washington Examiner reports.

The Five Phases

Pritzker’s plan is already in its second phase, according to NBC News. The first phase was the rapid spread of the coronavirus throughout the state. The second phase was the flattening of the curve, which began on May 1.

The situation in Illinois will continue to be monitored over the next several weeks. As long as the state keeps the curve flat, the recovery phase could begin as early as May 29.

During Phase Three, gatherings can begin to occur, but they must be limited to 10 people or less. At Phase Four, larger gatherings can begin to take place under the guidance from state officials. Gatherings of up to 50 people will be permitted.

Phase Five is considered full restoration, which will begin when a vaccine is available. At this stage, gatherings of more than 50 people will be permitted to take place again.

“You know that in Phase Three, there can be gatherings, church gatherings, of 10 or fewer. In Phase Four, 50 or fewer,” Gov. Pritzker said of the plan, according to the Examiner.

He went on: “So that’s the guidance that’s been given to me. I’m not the one providing that guidance. It really is what the scientists and epidemiologists are recommending.”

Working Around It

Assuming the state hits Phase Three later this month, churches are going to have to get creative in how they structure their services for their congregations. Churches could choose to do remote services or offer more services each day to meet the demand, but that may be too much for smaller congregations.

Would they be able to do larger services if everyone stayed in their car and they did outside services over a speaker?

Could they possibly do a service in an even more wide-open area, such as a park, ensuring that everyone stays at least six feet apart?

With faith playing such a significant role in so many people’s lives, it is hard to imagine that some sort of arrangement cannot be made to keep safety precautions in place while still allowing people to celebrate and lean on their faith.

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