chicago reopening plan

Chicago Will Join Illinois in Moving to Bridge Phase If COVID Metrics Remain Stable

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Chicago officials announced Thursday that the city will join the rest of Illinois when the state moves to its Bridge Phase - a new transitional period before a full reopening - if COVID metrics remain stable.

As part of the statewide reopening plan, Illinois officials unveiled the Bridge Phase last month, announcing new metrics and guidelines that will allow for higher capacity limits at places like museums, zoos and spectator events as well as increased business operations during a transitional period between the current Phase 4 guidelines and a full reopening in Phase 5.

In order for Illinois to advance to the Bridge Phase, the entire state must reach a 70% first-dose vaccination rate for residents 65 and older, in addition to maintain the current required metrics of at least 20% ICU beds availability and holding steady on hospitalizations for COVID-19 or COVID-like illnesses, mortality rates and case rates over a 28-day monitoring period.

While the state has since reached the vaccination metrics required to advance from Phase 4 to the Bridge Phase, increases in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have prevented the state from moving into the new phase.

In announcing loosened restrictions in its current Phase 4 on Thursday, Chicago officials revealed that if the city's reopening metrics "remain stable or continue to decrease for the next two weeks" and the city reaches criteria set by the state, Chicago will join Illinois in moving to the Bridge Phase.

The changes to restrictions for Chicago that were announced Thursday include:

  • Restaurants and bars: Indoor capacity can increase to the lesser of 50% or 100 people.
  • Spectator events, theater, and performing arts: Large indoor venues, including the United Center, can now operate at 25% capacity.
  • Meetings, conferences, and conventions: Large indoor venues can now operate at the lesser of 25% or 250 people.
  • Places of worship: Large indoor venues can now operate at 25% capacity. 
  • Festivals and general admission outdoor spectator events: Operate at 15 people per 1,000 sq. ft.
  • Flea and farmers markets: Operate at 25% capacity or 15 people per 1,000 sq. ft.

Under the new guidelines, some regulations remain in place, officials said, like the requirement to keep six feet of social distancing and that face coverings can be removed only in limited circumstances.

Chicago officials also said Thursday that people who are fully vaccinated - 14 days after receiving their final vaccine dose - will not count toward capacity limits at private events like weddings, and the city would consider expanding the exemption to other industries in the coming weeks if metrics continue to improve.

Chicago officials last updated the reopening guidance in late March, keeping most indoor restrictions in place, but increasing outdoor capacity limits at some establishments as the city faced "worrying increases" in COVID-19 metrics.

Chicago officials said Thursday that the city has made "significant progress in reversing the worrying rise in our COVID-19 metrics that started in March and caused the City to pause our cautious reopening plan."

Here's a look at what would change once Illinois moves from Phase 4 to the Bridge Phase:

  • Dining
    • Phase 4: Seated areas: Patrons ≥ 6 feet apart; parties ≤ 10, Standing areas: 25% capacity
    • Bridge Phase: Seated areas: Patrons ≥ 6 feet apart; parties ≤ 10, Standing areas: 30% capacity indoors; 50% capacity outdoors
  • Health and fitness
    • Phase 4: 50% capacity, Group fitness classes of 50 or fewer indoors or 100 or fewer outdoors *
    • Bridge Phase: 60% capacity, Group fitness classes of 50 or fewer indoors or 100 or fewer outdoors
  • Offices
    • Phase 4: 50% capacity
    • Bridge Phase: 60% capacity
  • Personal care
    • Phase 4: 50% capacity
    • Bridge Phase: 60% capacity
  • Retail and service counter
    • Phase 4: 50% capacity
    • Bridge Phase: 60% capacity
  • Amusement parks
    • Phase 4: 25% capacity *
    • Bridge Phase: 60% capacity *
  • Festivals and general admission outdoor spectator events
    • Phase 4: 15 people per 1,000 sq. ft. *
    • Bridge Phase: 30 people per 1,000 sq. ft. *
  • Flea and farmers markets
    • Phase 4: 25% capacity or 15 people per 1,000 sq. ft.
    • Bridge Phase: Indoor: 15 people per 1,000 sq. ft., Outdoor: 30 people per 1,000 sq. ft.
  • Film production
    • Phase 4: 50% capacity
    • Bridge Phase: 60% capacity
  • Meetings, conferences and conventions
    • Phase 4: Venue with capacity < 200 persons: Lesser of 50 people or 50% capacity *, Venue with capacity ≥ 200 persons: Lesser of 250 people or 25% capacity *
    • Bridge Phase: Lesser of 1,000 people or 60% capacity ^
  • Museums
    • Phase 4: 25% capacity
    • Bridge Phase: 60% capacity
  • Recreation
    • Phase 4: Indoor: Lesser of 50 people or 50% capacity, Outdoor: Maximum groups of 50; multiple groups permissible
    • Bridge Phase: Indoor: Lesser of 100 people or 50% capacity, Outdoor: Maximum groups of 100; multiple groups permissible
  • Social events
    • Phase 4: Indoor: Lesser of 50 people or 50% capacity *, Outdoor: Lesser of 100 people or 50% capacity *
    • Bridge Phase: Indoor: 250 people, Outdoor: 500 people
  • Spectator events (ticketed and seated)
    • Phase 4: Indoor venue with capacity < 200 people: Lesser of 50 people or 50% capacity *, Outdoor venue or indoor venue with capacity ≥ 200 people: 25% capacity *
    • Bridge Phase: 60% capacity
  • Theaters and performing arts
    • Phase 4: Indoor venue with capacity < 200 persons: Lesser of 50 or 50% capacity, Outdoor venue or indoor venue with capacity ≥ 200 persons: 25% capacity *
    • Bridge Phase: 60% capacity
  • Zoos
    • Phase 4: 25% capacity, Lesser of 50 or 50% at indoor exhibits
    • Bridge Phase: 60% capacity
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