The city of Chicago made a significant announcement on Thursday, saying that it plans to join the rest of the state of Illinois in moving to Phase 5 of the coronavirus reopening plan.
Chicago and the rest of the state will move into that phase on June 11, with officials citing declining numbers of COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths statewide, along with increasing numbers of coronavirus vaccinations statewide.
"Because you've masked up, socially distanced and got vaccinated, we're now moving to Phase 5 on Friday, June 11 in alignment with the state. This means Chicago is scheduled to fully reopen," Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot tweeted.
The big question for Chicago residents, and for the rest of the state, is what exactly Phase 5 entails.
At its most basic level, Phase 5 will remove all capacity limits and restrictions on all sectors of the economy, with “businesses, schools and recreation resuming normal operations with new safety guidance and procedures,” according to state officials.
Conventions, festivals and other large events will also be cleared to resume under the new phase.
Those large events will include concerts like Lollapalooza. The city will also permit the Cubs and White Sox to move to full capacity for fans at baseball games this summer, according to officials.
While the removal of occupancy limits and other rules represents a significant step forward in the COVID pandemic, state officials have cautioned residents that it is possible for the state to move back to previous phases in the following instances:
- If hospital admissions for COVID-19 illnesses increase to more than 150 hospitalizations per day over a 10-day monitoring period.
- If the number of COVID patients in hospitals climbs above 750 and stays there for more than 10 days.
- If the state’s mortality rate increases and goes above a 0.1 daily average.
- If ICU bed availability statewide drops below 20% over a 10-day monitoring period.
Last month, the city of Chicago announced it will no longer require masks for fully vaccinated people in most settings following similar changes from the state of Illinois and revised guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More information can be found on the state’s coronavirus website.