Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Public Health ( CDPH ) announced guidelines for organizations to hold in-person religious services.
The "Be Safe. Places of Worship" guidelines come as the city moves into Phase 3 "Cautiously Reopen" of the "Protecting Chicago" framework. Under the new guidelines, places of worship can welcome congregants back to their doors with a maximum of 50 people per room or 25 percent of the room capacitywhichever is feweras long as required social distancing can be maintained.
Under the new guidelines, a maximum of 50 people can attend in-person services per room as long as the recommended six feet social distancing between individuals not of the same household can be maintained. Houses of worship will also need to ensure that they protect congregants by maintaining healthy interactions, safe spaces and conditions, and operational resiliency and travel guidelines.
Although many Chicagoans are eager to return to in-person faith services, CDPH recommends residents who are elderly or with underlying health conditions continue to practice their faith remotely, through services on television, radio or online, until the COVID-19 data supports new guidance.
"As houses of worship are given clearance to open their doors to fifty people or less, I passionately ask faith leaders to carefully examine the cause and effect of allowing people into the building; permission does not mean you must participate," said Rev. L. Bernard Jakes, D.Min., senior pastor of West Point Missionary Baptist Church, in a statement. "Faith leaders have found a myriad of ways to adapt for the past 11 weeks, and another few weeks could save the life or lives of parishioners, as well as their families, especially our most vulnerable."
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 available throughout facilities;
Wear facial coverings;
Spread out seating by 6 feet to promote social distancing; and
Post visual signage throughout the facility regarding hygiene, social distancing and proper PPE among others.
To download a copy of the "Be Safe. Places of Worship" guidelines or to learn about the City of Chicago's Cautiously Reopen plans in other sectors, visit Chicago.gov/reopening .