Illinois governor says churches may not reopen for a year or more because of coronavirus
It could be more than a year before churches are allowed to resume their in-person gatherings, according to Democratic Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
Pritzker announced a five-phase plan to reopen Illinois that gives guidance to schools, businesses, churches, and other religious centers about when they will be allowed to reopen. In phase three, gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed. In phase four, gatherings of up to 50 people will be allowed. Gatherings of more than 50 people will not be allowed until phase five.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Pritzker confirmed that churches will be held to the same standards and not be allowed to hold in-person services of more than 50 people until phase five, even if it takes more than a year to get to that position.
"You know, that in phase three, there can be gatherings, church gatherings, of 10 or fewer. In phase four, 50 or fewer. So that's the guidance that's been given to me," Pritzker said. "I'm not the one providing that guidance. It really is what the scientists and epidemiologists are recommending."
Pritzker said the state entered phase two on Friday and will enter phase three on May 29 at the earliest. Face masks will be recommended in public until phase five is reached. Schools, restaurants, and bars will not reopen until phase four.
Phase five cannot begin until a vaccine is widely available or a highly effective therapeutic drug is released. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said a vaccine is 12 to 18 months away from being available to the public.