As Illinois prepares to enter Phase 3 of 5, Pritzker also addressed the potential of reopening religious institutions on the same day President Donald Trump deemed those facilities “essential” and called for mass reopenings.
“My team and I have received a lot of excellent proposals and ideas from different religious groups on how to safely expand their services,” Pritzker said. “From a broad standpoint, I can say that outdoor faith services, including but not limited to drive-in church services, will be welcomed in Phase 3. And we continue to collaborate with faith leaders to ensure that they can hold services in safe and creative ways that allow for worship, while protecting their congregants.”
When asked about Trump’s call for reopening, Pritzker encouraged faith leaders to stay the course in not holding mass religious gatherings indoors.
“We're gonna continue to operate on the basis of science and data and I'm as anxious as anybody to make sure that our churches, our mosques, our synagogues open back to where they were before COVID-19 came along,” he said. “We're gradually moving in that direction, but there's no doubt, the most important thing is we do not want parishioners to get ill because their faith leaders bring them together.”
Pritzker also said he was looking for help from the General Assembly in terms of enforcing the stay-at-home order.
Pritzker’s administration withdrew an emergency rule this month that would have allowed for the filing of Class A misdemeanor charges against those who disregard his stay-at-home order amid opposition from lawmakers in a key committee. He said Friday he would be disappointed if lawmakers did not approve a measure to allow for lesser fines without misdemeanor charges if a business ignores his order.
He said the General Assembly “does not appear to want to raise and hold a vote on” such a measure.
“I mean the Legislature has been asking for months and months, they've wanted to come together, because they consider themselves, and they are, a co-equal branch of government, along with the judiciary branch and the executive branch,” he said. “And it is their obligation, frankly, to do their duty. They don't seem to want to help in any way, dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, by offering us the ability to use a small enforcement mechanism that we've asked for.”
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said as Memorial Day weekend approaches, it’s important to continue to take precautions to ensure that Illinois remains on a pace to safely reopen.
“Although it's unfortunate that we can't throw a barbecue with 100 of our friends, I think it's clear why we are in that situation,” she said. “And I know that you're doing your part to make sure that we will get to celebrations so that we can celebrate with more normalcy in the future.”
Capitol News Illinois