Governor: Outdoor faith services welcome in Phase 3 of state’s reopening plan

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Gov. JB Pritzker detailed one additional change to the state’s five-phase Restore Illinois reopen plan on Friday: adding outdoor church services to the services that resume once the state hits Phase 3 of the plan on May 29.

“…from a broad standpoint, I can say that outdoor faith services, including but not limited to, thriving church services will be welcomed in Phase 3,” he said. “We continue to collaborate with faith leaders to ensure they can hold services in safe and creative ways that allow for worship while protecting their congregants.”

The announcement follows an earlier declaration Friday by President Donald Trump that called churches and other houses of worship “essential.”

Trump called on governors across the country to allow them to reopen this weekend and said if governors did not adhere to his request, he would “override them.” What that process would entail is not yet clear.

Pritzker also on Friday detailed the state’s plans to reopen childcare in both Phases 3 and 4.

“We can’t have a conversation about going back to work without talking about child care – anything else leaves a large portion of the workforce, especially women who too often bear a disproportionate burden, without any way to move forward while caring for their kids,” he said. “Illinois must take a cautious approach that appropriately balances the need to greatly expand child care with the need to lessen the risk of spreading the coronavirus.”

According to a release from the governor’s office, the state is encouraging all of the currently closed licensed child care providers — around 5,500 — to reopen when their Region moves to Phase 3 to serve the families who will be returning to work. Providers that have been closed and will reopen must develop a Reopening Plan that ensures they have revised operational and preparedness policies in place before opening.

Based off the advice of public health experts, the new group size limits will be roughly 30% lower than their pre-pandemic levels for centers. For licensed homes which tend to be smaller, most will be able to operate at standard capacity. Collectively, these efforts would bring Illinois to three-quarters of the previous child care capacity in the state.

Providers that have been successfully operating as emergency child care providers can move immediately to these new maximum capacities when their Region enters Phase 3. Most licensed child care homes will also be able to reopen to their licensed capacity.

Illinois is encouraging all of the currently closed licensed child care providers to reopen when their Region moves to Phase 3 to serve the many families who will be returning to work. Those providers that have been closed and will reopen must develop a Reopening Plan that ensures they have revised operational and preparedness policies in place before opening.

These newly reopened providers will have reduced capacity, of no more than 10 children per classroom, for the first 4 weeks. Once they have provided care safely for four weeks and have followed the new health, social distancing and sanitation routines and guidelines, they will be able to expand to larger group sizes, though not their full licensed capacity.

There will be no restrictions on which families can use child care in Phases 3 and 4.

Recognizing children’s need for quality early learning experiences, all providers will be expected to resume compliance with all licensing standards related to curriculum, learning environment, and staff qualifications.

The state is continuing to work on developing appropriate business relief funds that will help to minimize the financial impact of these necessary limitations and is working alongside the state’s congressional delegation to amplify its support for our national child care landscape in an upcoming relief package.

This is a developing story that will be updated.

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