On the same day President Donald Trump deemed religious gatherings “essential” activities and threatened states that ignore his orders, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that certain outdoor services will be allowed when the state moves into the next phase of his Restore Illinois plan.
The governor on Friday reiterated that all four regions of the state are currently on pace to move into phase three of his reopening plan next week. When that happens, outdoor and drive-in faith services will be allowed.
“We continue to collaborate with faith leaders to ensure they can hold services in safe and creative ways that allow for worship while protecting their congregants,” Pritzker said during his daily press briefing. “I know worship is as essential as food and water for most of us, and it’s my priority to provide guidance to ensure that it may proceed safely.”
Pritzker’s comments came on a day where Illinois recorded 2,758 new COVID-19 cases and 110 deaths. That brings the state’s coronavirus totals to 105,444 cases and 4,715 deaths across 100 counties.
Pritzker’s stay-at-home restrictions have already faced multiple legal challenges from churches and other groups, some of whom have flaunted the order and held religious services with more than 10 people.
Trump on Friday said state governors “need to do the right thing” and reopen churches, mosques and synagogues, threatening to “override” those who defy him, though it’s unclear what authority he has to do so.
Pritzker did not directly comment on the president’s remarks, but said his reopening decisions will be made on “the basis of science and data.”
“I’m as anxious as anybody to make sure that our churches and mosques and synagogues open back to where they were before COVID-19 came along,” he said. “We’re gradually moving in that direction.”
Pritzker also outlined the state’s approach to child care services, which will see a “gradual reopening” in phases three and four of Restore Illinois.
The state has not seen significant COVID-19 transmission in child care settings thus far, but will maintain a “cautious approach” that balances the need for expanded child care settings with restrictions that limit the risk of spread.
No more than 10 children will be allowed in a single child care classroom for the first four weeks of phase three, according to Pritzker. After that, larger classes will be allowed, though group sizes will be limited to 30% below whatever a facility’s maximum capacity was before the pandemic.
Providers that have been operating as emergency child care providers will be allowed to move immediately into these new capacities under phase three, Pritzker said. Most smaller licensed child care homes will also be able to reopen to their licensed capacity.
There will be no restrictions on which families can use child care in phases three and four, though Pritzker did say that children in these classes who are over the age of 2 must wear masks or face coverings if they are medically able to do so.
“Every child in every state deserves access to quality child care and early learning services,” he said. “We all want a stronger, more equitable America on the other side of this pandemic, and it starts with our children and their earliest experiences.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Coronavirus Prevention Tips and Resources
Officials advise taking preventive measures to slow the spread of the virus, including:
—Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water
—Using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
—Sneezing or coughing into a tissue and then disposing of the tissue
—Limiting contact with people regardless of how you feel
—Staying home when you are sick
Symptoms of COVID-19 include, but are not limited to:
—New onset of fever, cough, shortness of breath
—Congestion in the nasal sinuses or lungs
—Sore throat, body aches or unusual fatigue
If you think you have COVID-19:
Call your doctor before showing up at their office. If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, tell the operator that you think you have COVID-19. If possible, wear a mask before medical help arrives or presenting at a doctor’s office. More advice for those who think they have COVID-19.
—Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
—Illinois’ COVID-19 website
—Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) website
—IDPH COVID-19 hotline: 800-889-3931
—IDPH COVID-19 email link
—City of Chicago COVID-19 website
—City of Chicago COVID-19 hotline: 312-746-4835
—City of Chicago COVID-19 email link