Phase 1: Rapid Spread
General Guidance from Restore Illinois Plan:
- Stay at home order and social distancing in place
- Essential gatherings, such as religious services, of 10 or fewer allowed
- No non-essential gatherings of any size.
- Non-essential travel discouraged
- Schools in remote learning
- Child care in groups of 10 or fewer for essential workers
- Employees of “non-essential” businesses are required to work from home except for Minimum Basic Operations
Illinois Great Rivers Conference Guidance:
- Churches of any size should not meet for regular worship services in person. Churches should move to online, teleconference, or broadcast worship services only. Essential religious services are deemed to only include funerals or weddings that cannot be rescheduled.
- Churches may record their service for broadcast from their building, while maintaining appropriate social distancing and involving less than 10 people. This includes wearing masks when in public places and staying six feet from other people. Pay special attention that worship leaders keep appropriate distancing. This is particularly important as the singing and speaking of the leaders can lead to viral transmission much further than six feet. At no times should there be group singing in enclosed spaces, when people are within six feet of each other, or when people are facing each other.
- Wedding services should be postponed if possible or be kept to less than 10 people in attendance, including the officiants and any other professions (such as wedding coordinator, photographer, musicians). If you need to help set a limit, consider only inviting immediate family. We advise only publicizing the date and location to those who are on the approved list to prevent hurt feelings or awkward situations.
- Funerals should be limited to graveside services with less than 10 people in attendance (including officiant, funeral director, and cemetery staff). Encourage the scheduling of a memorial service either on-line or at a later date. No funeral meals or receptions should be held or hosted by the church.
- Church food banks, food pantries, and feeding ministries are “essential” functions, and they should continue while following all public health precautions, safe food-handling precautions, and high levels of social distancing. Volunteers who at higher-risk of dying from COVID-19 should not participate, and new volunteers might need to be recruited.
- Committees, leadership teams, Bible studies, and other small groups should not meet in person and continue to meet online or through conference call.
- Keep office functions as limited minimum basic operations. Those in the office should be wearing masks; if you have more than one person in the office, make sure that surfaces, including the phone, are regularly sanitized.
- Check with your insurance carrier to see if they have any particular guidelines for your church to follow.
- If you are considering allowing building users or renters into the church facilities for their minimum basic operations work, ensure that they observe gathering limits, safety procedures including mask usage, distancing protocols, and that church personnel are able to accommodate cleaning needs. Consider church liability as you make this decision and any guidelines your insurer might recommend.
- People over 65 years old, those with compromised immunity, those with respiratory illness or injury, others who are at a higher risk of dying from COVID-19, those who have tested positive for COVID-19, and those who have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days should continue to remain isolated and avoid gatherings of any size until they are given the all-clear. This includes church staff, volunteers, parishioners, visitors, renters, facility users, and guests. Church staff and clergy who are at high risk should have a conversation with their supervisor, Pastor-Parish Relations Committee or District Superintendent to seek appropriate accommodation.