illinois reopening plan

Illinois Reopening Plan: What Restrictions Change in Phase 4, Bridge Phase and Phase 5

Illinois is currently in Phase 4 of its reopening plan and must first enter what's known as the Bridge Phase before a full reopening in the final Phase 5, which has no capacity limits

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The state of Illinois is on track to enter Phase 5 of its reopening plan - which would mark a full reopening with no capacity limits - in July, officials announced Tuesday.

Currently in Phase 4, the state must first enter what's known as the Bridge Phase, a transitional period with looser restrictions and higher capacity limits before the final Phase 5. So what changes between Phase 4, the Bridge Phase and Phase 5? Here's a breakdown by category:

  • Dining
    • Phase 4: Seated areas: Patrons ≥ 6 feet apart; parties ≤ 10, Standing areas: 25% capacity
      • In Chicago: Indoors: 50% capacity with no more than 100 people per space; table size ≤ 6, Outdoors: 6 feet between parties; table size ≤ 10
    • Bridge Phase: Seated areas: Patrons ≥ 6 feet apart; parties ≤ 10, Standing areas: 30% capacity indoors; 50% capacity outdoors
      • In Chicago: 75% capacity with at least 6 ft. between parties; table size ≤ 10; Seating at bars/counters limited to 6 per party indoors and outdoors, Standing areas limited to 25% capacity
  • 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

Phase 5 has no capacity limits or restrictions on any sectors of the economy, state officials say, with "businesses, schools and recreation resuming normal operations with new safety guidance and procedures."

Conventions, festivals and large events of all sizes will also be allowed to take place in Phase 5.

Unlike previous tiered mitigations that were implemented regionally late last year during the fall surge of the pandemic, the state will move through the Bridge Phase and Phase 5 all at once. Chicago officials had previously issued more strict mitigations but loosened the current Phase 4 restrictions to be in line with the state's guidance last week and announced that the city would advance to the Bridge Phase with the rest of Illinois if metrics remain stable and it meets the required criteria.

In order for Illinois to advance from the current Phase 4 to the Bridge Phase, the entire state must reach a 70% first-dose vaccination rate for residents 65 and older, in addition to maintaining the 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.

Officials said Tuesday that the state has vaccinated 55% of individuals 16 years and older and 79% of residents ages 65 and older - both well above the threshold to advance.

While the state has met the vaccination metrics required to move to the Bridge Phase, increases in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have prevented the state from moving into the new phase in recent weeks.

Illinois officials said Tuesday that since Chicago's announcement last week, the COVID-19 test positivity has continued to drop and is now under 5%.

As "metrics continue to stabilize and decline, the state could soon move into the 'Bridge Phase' of the Restore Illinois Reopening Plan," Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Gov. J.B. Pritzker's offices said in a joint statement. "Following a 28-day period of continued stability or decline in key COVID-19 metrics, the state would then move into Phase 5, with all capacity limits lifted. The State is on track to be in Phase 5 in July."

“The trends are encouraging, but we must be cautious as we move forward,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Tuesday. “As more venues reopen, it is critical that we increase the number of people who are vaccinated. Immunity is how we stop transmission of this virus, but we need greater community immunity and that requires as many of us as possible getting vaccinated as soon as possible.”  

During a news conference announcing the return of the Chicago Auto Show Tuesday, Lightfoot said the goal is to enter Phase 5 by July 4.

"Every day that our COVID-19 metrics continue to tick downward raises the day closer to be able to put this pandemic in the rearview mirror and we are too close to accomplishing his mission to give up now," Lightfoot said. "Our goal, ladies and gentlemen, is to be fully open by July 4. I am working night and day toward this goal, as is our public health department, but we and I need you to continue to be on this journey with us and that means getting vaccinated now, as soon as possible. So I urge everyone to continue to follow the public health guidance, make sure that you take advantage of a life-saving vaccine which is free and readily available all across the city."

The state could revert back to a previous phase in its reopening plan if there is a resurgence in the pandemic, officials say. That would be measured by an unspecified "increasing trend" in Illinois' case rate as well as one of the following, measured over a 10-day monitoring period:

  • Hospital admissions for COVID-19 like illness trend increasing and above 150 daily average
  • COVID-19 patients in the hospital trend increasing and above 750 daily census
  • Mortality rate trend increasing and above 0.1 daily average
  • ICU bed availability < 20%
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