CHICAGO (CBS) — Despite the number of COVID-19 cases in the state now at over 100,00 Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said additional activities can be added for the state to gradually reopen and begin Phase 3.
On Wednesday Pritzker held his daily briefing not at the Thompson Center in Chicago, but in Springfield as lawmakers returned for a three-day session.
He said there will now be an additional option for bars and restaurants.
“Opening for outdoor seating when Phase 3 begins. With the right restrictions, tables six feet apart, and away from the sidewalks on the masks and distancing measures for staff and other precautions, the experts believe that these services can open at a risk comparable to other outdoor activities, and give our hospitality industry a much needed boost,” Pritzker said.
The governor added that municipalities have to be on board to help those businesses with the new guidelines.
“Phase 3 permits all gatherings, not just essential ones, of 10 people or fewer. That means if you want to go enjoy a picnic in the park or walk with nine other people, you can. Just remember to wear a mask or face covering one social distancing cannot be maintained. That means boating or camping with up to 10 people is allowed in both that are an appropriate size to hold that number,” he said.
With the start of Phase 3, all state parks will reopen on May 29. All concession will reopen as well under guidelines set for our retail and food service businesses in Phase 3.
Indoor and outdoor tennis facilities with Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) safety precautions and capacity limits will also be allowed to reopen. For golf, courses can allow foursomes out on the same tee times. Carts will also be permitted with one person per cart, or one immediate household per cart.
With the new ten person gathering limit for all activities in Phase 3, boating or camping with up to ten people will be permitted.
For gyms, health clubs and fitness studios operators can provide one-on-one personal training in indoor facilities and outdoor fitness classes of up to ten people.
Services, like nail salons, tattoo shops, hair braiders, spas and barbershops, can also reopen with IDPH safety precautions and capacity limits.
And all retail stores can open with safety precautions and capacity limits in place.
“The Governor’s action to allow for expanded outdoor dining options will benefit many restaurants at a time when every dollar counts and provides a glimmer of light at the end of this long, COVID-19 tunnel. Innovative outdoor dining strategies extend a lifeline – restoring jobs and offering guests the hospitality experience they’ve been missing while prioritizing public health and safety. Outdoor dining will not help every restaurant, but it is a constructive step in the right direction,“ said Sam Toia, President and CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association.
Even with the news of expanded reopening for Phase 3, Dr. Ngozi Ezike of the Illinois Department of Public Health joined Pritzker to announced that in the last 24 hours, 2,388 new COVID-19 cases were reported with 147 deaths. Ezkie said that now brings the total number of deaths because of the coronavirus to 4,525.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in Illinois is over 100,000.
But she revealed good news in that the number of people being treated in Illinois hospitals is at its lowest level since the start of tracking the pandemic in the state.
“As of last night, 3,914 individuals reported to be hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state. Of those 1,005 were in the ICU and 554 were on ventilators,” Ezike said. “This is the lowest number since we were capturing these numbers that we have had for COVID-19.”
Ezike added that Illinois is continuing to ramp up its testing efforts.
“A total of 642,713 tests have been run statewide, with more than 21,000 tests being reported in the last 24 hours,” Ezike said. “A simple nasal swab is used.”
Illinois lawmakers return to Springfield Wednesday for a three-day session.
Lawmakers are expected to discuss a state budget and critical issues surrounding COVID-19 relief, all while following social distancing guidelines.
The sessions come with safety guidelines from the Illinois Department of Public Health. Lawmakers will be required to wear face coverings and there will be temperature checks.
Earlier this week, Pritzker announced Illinois now ranks first in the U.S. in per-capita COVID-19 testing over the past week, though he acknowledged “there is much more work to do to advance testing to make it even more widely available.”
While all four regions of Illinois remain on pace to enter Phase 3 of Pritzker’s “Restore Illinois” plan to gradually reopen the state’s economy on a regional basis, Ezike said people need to continue taking precautions to protect themselves from the virus, such as wearing masks in public when they can’t stay at least six feet away from others.
Pritzker also announced the state’s plan to let 1.8 million SNAP recipients buy food from participating grocery retailers online has been approved by the federal government.
The option will begin on June 2. All Link customers will be alerted when they can use their card to make food orders online.
“To keep more families safe and healthy, my administration is expanding the ways in which SNAP recipients can acquire groceries to include online purchasing,” said Pritzker. “The best part is that in addition to helping families shop a little easier and safer during this pandemic, this is a permanent new feature of the SNAP landscape in Illinois that will support our residents for many years to come.”