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Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker of IllinoisWikimedia Commons

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SPRINGFIELD, May 7, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – On Tuesday, Democrat Gov. J.B. Pritzker laid out his five-phase plan for reopening Illinois, including the alarming revelation that, if he has his way, churches will be unable to seat more than 50 people at a time until the coronavirus is effectively abolished.

“We have to figure out how to live with COVID-19 until it can be vanquished – and to do so in a way that best supports our residents’ health and our healthcare systems, and saves the most lives,” Pritzker said, NBC Chicago reports. “This is also a data-driven plan that operates on a region-by-region basis, a recognition that reality on the ground looks different in different areas of our state.”

Phase One is total lockdown for anything except “essential businesses,” with some counties having moved to Phase Two, meaning the rate of known infections has slowed enough that some “non-essential” businesses and outdoor activities can resume limited operations.

Phase Three, which localities are not allowed to begin until May 29 at the earliest, is predicated on further declines or stabilization of infections or hospital admissions, and would allow more businesses and services to reopen, as could public gatherings such as religious services, albeit limited to just ten people.

Even more declines would trigger Phase Four, which would allow schools, daycares, restaurants, and bars to reopen, as well as allow a maximum of 50 people to gather. However, the remaining limits would not be lifted until Illinois sees “a vaccine or highly effective treatment widely available or the elimination of any new cases over a sustained period.”

The development, testing, and release of a working coronavirus vaccine is believed to be 12 to 18 months away, meaning that, unless a drug that cures the virus is developed sooner, churches would be forbidden from returning to full capacity for another year.

As of Thursday, the United States is estimated to have seen more than 1.2 million cases of the coronavirus, with 75,587 deaths and 213,664 recoveries. Illinois is the fourth-most-affected state, with 68,232 known cases and 2,974 deaths. As of May 1, 44 percent of the state’s coronavirus deaths came from nursing homes.

Pritzker and other Illinois officials have been criticized for the scope of the restrictions they’ve imposed on residents. Last month, a judge forced the McHenry County, Illinois, Health Department to hand over the names of COVID-19 patients to police.

This week, a group of Chicago pastors declared they will no longer abide by the 10-person congregation limit, and are prepared to go to court to regain their rights.

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