CHICAGO (CBS) — Gov. JB Pritzker said all four regions of Illinois will be able to move to Phase 4 of reopening the economy on Friday, meaning restaurants will be able to allow indoor dining, and many other businesses that have been closed for nearly four months can reopen, but with capacity limits.
“Everything that we’ve gone through over the last 3 ½ months has led us to this point where things are going well, and in the right direction, and it allows us to gradually open our economy, and to do more, have more activity, and so on,” Pritzker said Thursday afternoon.
Phase 4 of the state’s reopening plan loosens restrictions on restaurants, museums, zoos, theaters, stadiums, and other businesses:
- Restaurants and bars can reopen indoor dining, with no more than 10 people per table, tables spaced six feet apart, and 25% capacity in standing areas. Restaurants and bars already were allowed to open outdoor seating areas.
- Childcare centers, schools, colleges, and universities can reopen under state public health guidelines.
- Museums and zoos can reopen with a limit of 25% capacity, interactive exhibits and rides closed, guided tours limited to no more than 50 people per group, advance ticket sales and timed ticketing required, and concessions permitted with restrictions.
- Theaters, cinemas, and other indoor performance venues can reopen with a limit of 50% capacity (up to 50 people maximum) per screening room, outdoor capacity limited to 20% of the venue’s overall capacity, and concessions permitted with restrictions.
- Outdoor spectator sports can resume with up to 20% seating capacity, and concessions permitted with restrictions.
- Film production is allowed to resume with no more than 50% of sound stage or filming location capacity, and crowd scenes limited to 50 people or fewer.
- Indoor recreation facilities such as bowling alleys and skating rinks can reopen with a limit of 50% capacity (up to 50 people maximum). Facilities with space to accommodate multiple groups of up to 50 people while maintaining appropriate social distancing, and limited interaction between groups, will be permitted.
- Meeting venues – including conference centers and wedding venues – can reopen with a limit of 50% capacity (up to a maximum of 50 people). Facilities with space to accommodate multiple groups of up to 50 people while maintaining appropriate social distancing, and limited interaction between groups, will be permitted.
- Youth and recreational sports venues can reopen with up to 50% capacity, 20% seating capacity for spectators, and group sizes up to 50, with multiple groups allowed during practices and games if the venue has space to allow for appropriate social distancing and limited interaction between groups. Concessions can reopen with restrictions.
- Gyms and fitness clubs can open indoor facilities at up to 50% capacity, with group classes of up to 50 people, and multiple groups allowed in facilities with enough space to allow proper social distancing and limited interaction between groups. Gyms and fitness clubs already had been allowed to offer outdoor classes with restrictions.
- Retail businesses, offices, barbershops, salons, manufacturing, and other industries that were allowed to reopen in Phase 3 can continue to operate at reduced capacity.
- Swimming pools remain limited to lap swimming, diving, swimming lessons, swim team practices, and therapy pool use. Pools are limited to 50% capacity, with no more than 15 people in a group.
Phase 4 also allows for public gatherings of up to 50 people, compared to only 10 people in earlier phases. For more details on the state’s Phase 4 reopening guidelines, click here.
While the governor praised Illinois residents for their efforts to make sure the state could reach Phase 4 by following public health guidelines, he also warned if people use the next phase of reopening as an excuse to stop wearing masks in public, or ignoring social distancing guidelines, he could move the state back to more a more restrictive phase of the reopening plan.
Pritzker said he doesn’t want to see a new surge in COVID-19 cases as has been seen in states that reopened more quickly than Illinois, and said he’s willing to reimpose earlier restrictions if further reopening causes a major spike in virus cases.
“I’m not afraid to protect the people of Illinois by moving a region back to an earlier phase if we see a surge. Ours will not be one of the states that takes no action in response to a return to the peak,” Pritzker said.
“We’ve seen what’s happened in other states that have allowed politics or short-term thinking to drive decision-making Many other states are now seeing significant increases in cases, hospitalizations, and intensive care bed usage, ant they’re being forced to move backward and stay home,” he added. “That’s not the story in Illinois. Here we have been gradually restoring business and leisure activities in a highly deliberate manner, guided by doctors’ advice.”
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike praised Illinois residents for following public health guidelines so far, and credited them for making Illinois one of the leading states in reducing the spread of the virus.
“You did it. Illinois is being touted across the country of getting it right. If you weren’t originally sure that staying at home, and masking, and physical distancing, and washing your hands helped slow disease transmission, hopefully you’re a believer now. We have seen declining fatality totals week after week,” she said.
Ezike also chastised people who object to wearing a face covering in public, stressing they are putting other people in danger even if they don’t have symptoms of the virus.
“You are still part of this contract, too. I have to talk specifically to you. Your individual actions, or even your inactions, will still affect everyone in the state. I’m likening the refusal to wear face coverings to a game of Russian Roulette, as we don’t know who’s infected, we don’t know if we are infected, we’re just taking a chance,” she said.
On Thursday, IDPH announced 894 new cases of COVID-19, and 41 additional deaths. The figure brings the total number of cases in Illinois to 139,434 in 101 counties since the start of the pandemic, including 6,810 deaths.
“That number would have been thousands and thousands higher if we hadn’t been willing and able to join together to stay home and stay safe,” said Dr. Emily Landon, a University of Chicago epidemiologist who repeatedly has spoken at the governor’s COVID-19 briefings.
In March, Landon said the governor’s stay-at-home order was “the only way forward” to keep people as safe as possible during the pandemic, and avoiding even larger death tolls than Illinois has seen in the months since. At the time, she said the restrictions might seem anti-climactic when all is said in done.
“A successful shelter in place means that you’re going to feel like it was all for nothing, and you’d be right, because nothing means that nothing happened to your family, and that’s what we’re going for here,” she said at the time.
She echoed that sentiment on Thursday, thanking Illinois residents for their patience over the past few months.
“Here in Illinois, we know that COVID is no hoax, and we are determined, and we have shown how determined we are to do whatever is necessary, even if it means months of patience, hand sanitizer, and masks,” she said.
According to Pritzker, Illinois has seen a 76% drop in daily COVID-19 cases from a peak seven weeks ago, a 65% decrease in daily virus deaths from a peak six weeks ago, a 60% drop in virus hospitalizations from a peak in early May, and a 67% decrease in ventilator usage since a peak in mid-April.
“This is not to suggest in any way that our battle is over, but so much progress has been made, and if we continue to follow the path the doctors recommend, we can continue our march forward toward more normalcy,” he said.