coronavirus illinois

Cook County to ‘Ease' Phase 4 Mitigations as COVID Cases Decline, Vaccinations Increase

Chicago on Thursday also issued its reopening plan, which allows for fans to return to the United Center and the revival of some summer festivals.

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The Cook County Department of Public Health on Thursday issued revised COVID-19 Phase 4 reopening guidance that eases some mitigations while taking "a cautious approach to reopening suburban Cook County."

The guidance, issued the same day as the city of Chicago released its reopening plan, becomes effective on Friday, April 30. 

“We’re able to ease mitigations within Phase 4 for a number of reasons," said Dr. Rachel Rubin, co-lead of the Cook County Department of Public Health, in a statement, "including a recent decline in cases, hospitalizations and deaths, as well as nearly one million residents, or more than 50 percent of eligible residents 16 years and older of suburban Cook County who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine."

The new changes to the current Phase 4 guidelines include:

  • Increased indoor restaurant capacity to 50 percent capacity or 100 individuals, whichever is smaller. 
  • Outdoor social events, such as weddings, proms and potlucks increase to lesser of 50% capacity or 100 people. 
  • Fully vaccinated people will be exempt from the capacity count for private social events, such as weddings.  
  • Higher capacity for indoor and outdoor seated spectator events, theater and performing arts in large venues (ticketed and seated) with a capacity of 200 or more to 25 percent. Indoor events with capacity less than 200 stay at 50 percent capacity with no more than 50 people. 
  • Festivals and general admission outdoor spectator events increase to 15 people per 1,000 square feet. 

Further easing of these mitigations is "14 days of stable/declining metrics including decreasing hospitalizations, and COVID case counts and positivity rates," Dr. Rubin said.

Guidelines were laid out for health and fitness centers (indoor facilities are limited to a maximum of 50% capacity), flea markets and farmers markets (venue capacity limited to 25% capacity), public swimming pools (limited to the lesser of either 50 bathers or 50% of facility capacity while ensuring proper social distancing) and museums (capacity limited to 25% occupancy), among other locations.

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Chicago on Thursday also issued its reopening plan, which allows for fans to return to the United Center and the revival of some summer festivals.

City officials also said 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. Officials said 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."

As part of the statewide reopening plan, Illinois officials unveiled a new 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 and a full reopening in Phase 5.

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.

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