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City looks at fines against churches that defied stay-home order

“There were some churches that congregated in excess of the allowable number and we will be taking action as to those individuals and those churches,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday.

Belmont Cragin residents hold a protest in front of Metro Praise International, which is holding services on May 17, 2020. The church violates Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order, which limits in-worship services to 10 people. | Pat Nabong/For The Sun-Times
Belmont Cragin residents protested Sunday in front of Metro Praise International, which held services in violation of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order, which limits in-worship services to 10 people.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Though no enforcement action was taken on Sunday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said fines are being considered against a number of Chicago churches that held in-person services in defiance of her stay-at-home order.

“There were some churches that congregated in excess of the allowable number and we will be taking action as to those individuals and those churches,” Lightfoot said.

Asked whether that enforcement action would be in the form of fines, she replied: “Certainly, that’s where we’ll start.”

Police vehicles were near some churches on Sunday, but only to prevent clashes between worshippers and protesters, Lightfoot said.

“What we did ... is again try to educate people into compliance. We had folks that were out there because there was some concern about counter-protests. Luckily, none of that materialized,” the mayor said.

On another matter, the mayor confirmed what the Sun-Times reported last week: She is talking to the Illinois Restaurant Association and individual restaurant owners about the possibility of closing streets in a way that would allow restaurants to maximize revenue from outdoor dining during the month of June, when their indoor dining rooms will remain closed by state order.

“We know that if we don’t open up those restaurants soon, some of them are never coming back,” Lightfoot said.

“We have to figure out a way to safely get those restaurants back on line. Safety for their employees. Safety for their patrons. That’s why we’re … exploring opportunities to open up our streets. Because we know that things are safer outside rather than inside where you’ve got the recirculated air.”