DES PLAINES, Ill. (CBS) — A religious gathering had officials in Des Plaines walking a fine line Sunday night.
As CBS 2’s Marissa Parra reported, video shows many people at the Big Tent Revival did not appear to be following COVID-19 guidelines, and this weekend, the City of Des Plaines was trying to determine when and whom to issue $750 citations.
Hundreds of people standing and sitting side-by-side and shaking hands without masks is a rare sight in Illinois at the time of the coronavirus.
For well over a week, hundreds have gathered in and around a tent in Des Plaines to listen to traveling evangelist Torben Søndergaard.
As CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reported last week, the City of Des Plaines has been trying to walk the line between observing public safety and freedom of worship.
After images of crowds with Søndergaard’s group, The Last Reformation, surfaced on their Facebook and YouTube pages, the city issued an executive order threatening $750 fines if a group gathers without wearing masks or practing social distancing. Religous gathering are exempt from the city’s current 50 person limit on group gatherings, but they still must cover their faces and practice social distancing of six feet.
But the threat did not stop Søndergaard or the worshipers.
On Sunday, people came in and out of the gated service in Des Plaines. From what was visible to the naked eye on film outside the tent and inside the tent, no one seemed to be wearing a mask.
And though the tent revival is winding down, the City of Des Plaines said their work is just beginning – between the violation of the executive order and the lack of a contract permit.
Though Søndergaard said on social media that a tent permit he held up in his hand was all he needed, the city said that was not true. Religious services need special event permits too.
Parra is told Sunday was the last revival tent meeting in Des Plaines. They are on to New Hampshire next.
The City of Des Plaines said the next step is to look through the footage The Last Reformation has posted to decide when and whom to issue $750 citations. That process starts on Monday.