mask guidelines

Chicago-Area Religious Communities Adjust to New CDC Mask Guidelines

Churchgoers and staff members who talked to NBC 5 said they're both relieved and excited as the state of Illinois inches closer to a complete reopening.

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In wake of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's updated guidance that states fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear face masks, some religious communities are trying to determine what works best for their congregations.

At Metro Praise International Church in Chicago's Belmont-Cragin neighborhood, members are free to walk in and worship. The church's pastor, who has been outspoken about coronavirus restrictions, isn't requiring worshippers to mask up or social distance.

"The only restriction we have now is if you have pre-conditions that you would take extra caution, and so we’ll make room for that," pastor Joe Wyrostek explained.

At the city's Holy Name Cathedral, wearing a mask is required, though that isn't the case for all churches in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago.

The Archdiocese decided to relax its rules and allow churches to decide what works best. But if parishioners don't wish to wear a mask, they'll have to prove they've received the COVID-19 vaccine.

In the Pilsen community, Lincoln United Methodist Church is playing its safe. The pastor, Emma Lozano, said her church's community lost 44 members to COVID-19.

"Now what we are going to do is continue masking, continue virtually, but we're going to open very slowly, but outside, and we're only have like 10 at a time," she said.

According to the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, there is no blanket rule, but each synagogue determines what's best for them and is required to follow CDC and local guidance.

Worshippers who talked to NBC 5 said they're both relieved and excited as the state of Illinois inches closer to a complete reopening.

"Being able to go after Jesus together in the place of worship is so important not just for me, but for the whole body of Christ in America," said TJ Hughes, a deacon at Metro Praise International Church.

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