coronavirus illinois

How Might Businesses Look Different as Chicago Reopens? Here’s a Glimpse

It's the first time many residents are learning the new information as the mayor's initial plan offered few specifics

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has given some of the first hints at details behind the city's five-phased reopening plan - including what things might look like as the city enters its next stage.

In a virtual speech to the Economic Club of Chicago Wednesday, Lightfoot detailed which industries could reopen and what restrictions might be in place to make that happen.

It's the first time many residents are learning the new information as the mayor's initial plan offered few specifics.

Among those that are expected to or "on track" to reopen in the next phase, with safety guidelines in place, are childcare, manufacturing, construction and elective surgeries. That's in addition to essential businesses that have already been open such as grocery stores, social services, public transit and healthcare.

"To do this we also expect a reopening of our parks and libraries, programming for youth with strict protocols in place," Lightfoot said, acknowledging the need for such services as parents begin to return to work.

In addition, the city is working to find "creative solutions to partially reopen" businesses in retail, recreation, personal services like salons and barbershops, arts and restaurants.

"We believe we have can find creative ways in which we can bring some of this activity back online safely sooner rather than later," Lightfoot said.

The city is also working to find safe solutions to resume banks, technology, professional services and corporate environments, Lightfoot said.

"Unfortunately at this point, we will not be ready to reopen our lakefront," she added.

So what safety measures might be in place when phase three begins?

Businesses will not be allowed to open small break rooms, barriers must be in place between desks, hand sanitizer stations should be available and visuals should offer social distancing reminders for employees, Lightfoot suggested. Those who do return to work will be asked to wear face coverings and may be required to undergo a health screening before entering buildings. Some may also alternate days for being in the workplace.

Graphic shared by Lightfoot from the Economic Club of Chicago

For retailers, stores will need spacing and barriers at checkout points, the ability to regulate capacity, touchless payment if possible, and some stores should offer special hours for vulnerable populations to shop.

Lightfoot unveiled her five-phased reopening plan earlier this month, with Chicago currently in phase two.

Phase three was said to have "strict physical distancing with some businesses opening," though gatherings would be limited to 10 people or less, residents will still be required to social distance and wear a face covering and those with symptoms would still be urged to get tested.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has now revealed details on a five-phased plan to reopen Illinois as the state remains under a stay-at-home order through May 30.

In order to move into this phase, Lightfoot said the city needs to see a declining rate of new cases, stable hospitalization rates and bed, ICU and ventilator capacity, a testing capacity of at least 5% of the city per month, lower positivity rates, and expanded investigations and contact tracing for those who test positive.

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