CHICAGO — Places of worship should move their services online as the city and state face a new surge of coronavirus, Gov. JB Pritzker said Friday.
The state isn’t requiring churches, mosques and other places to stop in-person services — but Pritzker said he would encourage religious leaders to move services online to protect people.
“I want people to be able to worship, but I also want people to be safe,” Pritzker said during a Friday coronavirus briefing. “So we’ve told the pastors across the state that we would encourage them to have online services. We’d encourage them to have very small gatherings that might be broadcast to others.
“I think that’s the safest thing to do, particularly in this environment … .”
Pritzker’s recommendation came as the state and city are in the midst of a second wave of coronavirus. Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are quickly growing; just Friday, Illinois broke a record for how many cases it reported in one day — even though the previous record was set just the day before.
The state and city tried to force places of worship to stop in-person services in the spring because the crowding and other activities that happen at them — like singing — create a higher risk for COVID-19 to spread.
The majority of religious communities followed the directive, holding virtual services. But some churches refused to comply, and Pritzker eventually backed down and allowed them to resume in-person worship.
The state isn’t currently trying to impose restrictions on places of worship, though most parts of Illinois — including Chicago — are facing stricter rules for bars, restaurants and gatherings due to the surge.
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