Phase 2: Flattening the Curve

General Guidance from Restore Illinois Plan:

  • Stay at home order and social distancing in place
  • Face coverings must always be worn when social distancing is not possible
  • 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:

  1. Churches should follow Phase 1 Illinois Great Rivers Conference Guidance except as changed in this list.
  2. Drive In Worship Services are permitted within these guidelines:
    1. Coordinate with your local law enforcement and public health officials to determine permission, guidance, or additional safety recommendations. 
    2. Utilize hospitality volunteers or signage to direct parking. Do not have people stop and converse with each other as they enter.
    3. Everyone, including volunteers, staff, and clergy, must follow social distancing guidelines at all times. This includes, wearing masks in public 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. These practices should continue until the region enters Phase 5 (Illinois Restored). Safest practice includes broadcasting the worship service via FM radio or wifi streaming, and extra caution must be exercised if the worship service is simply amplified to worshippers listening in their vehicles.
    4. People who live together should be the only ones who travel together, without introducing new people to the vehicle, stopping to pick up someone else, or have people from outside of their household in their vehicle.
    5. No one should leave vehicles for any reason. Do not open tailgates or sit near vehicle in folding chairs. Worshippers should stay in their vehicle. It is safest to leave windows up and closed, but this might not be possible in all situations. Please share this caution with any worshippers.
    6. In Phase 2, the church building should remain closed. This includes the restrooms. Please do not have worshippers in the church building for any purpose. In Phase 3, restroom facilities in the church building may be used. Arrange for a volunteer to clean the facility between usages and monitor that people keep social distances as they enter and exit the building and facilities. Facilities may be fully opened in Phase 4, but they will need to be maintained, monitored, and sanitized between usages.
    7. Park every other spot, keeping a car width between vehicles. Discourage participants from hanging out windows or yelling between cars. Coronavirus is most commonly spread through respirated water droplets, which can travel up to six feet with regular breathing. Singing, shouting, or talking loudly can send respirated water vapor much, much further.
    8. No one should exchange anything, including passing out bulletins and hymnals or passing the offering plate. Participants should not “just drop this off” to another person while they are at worship.
    9. Communion should not be practiced during drive-in worship during Phase 2. Communion may be practiced with no-touch precautions in later phases, according to instructions and precautions in those phases.
    10. Continue to provide a non-contact worship option for congregants who determine that it is not safe for them to participate in Drive In worship.
    11. In advance, have church leaders determine how they will respond to promote group safety if participants do not follow these guidelines.
  3. This is the time to prepare your church facility for possible reuse:
    1. Deep clean your entire church. Although unoccupied spaces are unlikely to still harbor contagious amounts of the virus, a thoroughly cleaned space will provide additional confidence to your congregation and facility users. Make sure that cleaning staff and volunteers are practicing appropriate social distancing, wearing masks, and practicing exceptional cleanliness.
    2. Replace all air filters (furnace, air conditioning, air cleaner devices) and increase frequency of filter replacement.
    3. Sanitize pews, bathrooms, doorknobs, water fountains, light switches, and microphones. Provide access to sanitizing wipes so folks can wipe down spaces with which they come in contact.
    4. Pay special attention to the nursery/preschool/children’s areas. While it will likely be some time before these spaces are open again for use, this level of care is deeply appreciated by families. Use this time to remove worn/broken toys and other clutter.
    5. Make and post signs about not shaking hands, physical distancing, and doing non-contact greetings. Post reminders and ways of practicing safe distancing at all entrances and throughout your building. Post these reminders above water fountains, in restrooms and other high traffic areas.
  4. Communicate all of these activities and precautions to your congregation and community. Tell your congregation and community how you are preparing the church for their return, especially your efforts to provide a safe, clean, and comfortable facility.
  5. 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.