Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced new reopening guidelines for city churches Saturday with Chicago in Phase Three of its reopening plan.
Under the "Be Safe. Places of Worship" guidelines, churches are required to only allow a maximum of 50 congregants per room or 25% of a room's capacity as long as social distancing can be maintained, according to a news release.
Churches will also need to protect congregants by maintaining healthy interactions, safe spaces and conditions, operational resiliency and travel guidelines.
Those who are elderly or have underlying health conditions are encouraged not to attend in-person services, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health.
As part of the guidelines, religious organizations must follow these protocols:
- No more than 50 individuals in a room if distancing is followed
- Stagger ingress and egress times to avoid checkpoint crowding
- Frequently disinfect facilities
- Provide sanitation stations
- Wear facial coverings
- Spread out seating by 6 feet to promote social distancing
- Post visual signage throughout the facility regarding hygiene, social distancing and proper PPE among others
Late last month, the Illinois Department of Public Health released a nine-page document laying out recommendations - not mandates - as it relates to holding worship services.
Two Chicago-area churches, Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church in the city's Albany Park neighborhood and Logos Baptist Ministries in suburban Niles, previously filed a lawsuit in federal court asking that restrictions on religious services be overturned, arguing they were unconstitutional.
Following the issuance of new state guidance, the non-profit representing the churches claimed a "complete victory in the near term."