Illinois' new stay-at-home order lifts some restrictions as residents stare down another 30 days in isolation.
In announcing the extension of the statewide order through the end of May, Gov. J.B. Pritzker noted that some previously closed businesses and places can reopen beginning in May.
The new executive order will include the following modifications effective May 1:
- OUTDOOR RECREATION: State parks will begin a phased re-opening under guidance from the Department of Natural Resources. Fishing and boating in groups of no more than two people will be permitted. A list of parks that will be open on May 1 and additional guidelines can be found on the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website HERE . Golf will be permitted under strict safety guidelines provided by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and when ensuring that social distancing is followed.
- NEW ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES: Greenhouses, garden centers and nurseries may re-open as essential businesses. These stores must follow social distancing requirements and must require that employees and customers wear a face covering. Animal grooming services may also re-open.
- NON-ESSENTIAL RETAIL: Retail stores not designated as non-essential businesses and operations may re-open to fulfill telephone and online orders through pick-up outside the store and delivery.
- FACE COVERINGS: Beginning on May 1, individuals will be required to wear a face-covering or a mask when in a public place where they can’t maintain a six-foot social distance. Face-coverings will be required in public indoor spaces, such as stores. This new requirement applies to all individuals over the age of two who are able to medically tolerate a face-covering or a mask.
- ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES AND MANUFACTURING: Essential businesses and manufacturers will be required to provide face-coverings to all employees who are not able to maintain six-feet of social distancing, as well as follow new requirements that maximize social distancing and prioritize the well-being of employees and customers. This will include occupancy limits for essential businesses and precautions such as staggering shifts and operating only essential lines for manufacturers.
- SCHOOLS: Educational institutions may allow and establish procedures for pick-up of necessary supplies or student belongings. Dormitory move-outs must follow public health guidelines, including social distancing.
Pritzker had been hinting at changes to the order for days.
But while some restrictions may be lifting, others are increasing. The order also includes a new mandate that all residents over the age of 2 cover their faces when in public spaces.
The statewide stay-at-home order first took effect on March 21. The order was later extended through April 30 and Pritzker now says it will continue through May 30.
Already, some Chicago suburbs have canceled Memorial Day and even Fourth of July celebrations. Meanwhile major summer festivals like Chicago Pride Fest and those celebrating blues and gospel music in the city are also postponed or canceled.
Pritzker has said the state could consider a region-by-region change to restrictions in place due to COVID-19, but timing on any such reopening remains unclear.
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“I absolutely think that we need to look at where (healthcare) capacity exists,” Pritzker said during Monday’s availability. “If the hospital capacity in a certain area is quite large and very available, even with coronavirus in existence, then that might be a place where you can do more than some other place. The idea of people going outside and wearing a mask on a property of theirs that might be 100 acres in size is much different than the prospect of somebody on the North or West Side of Chicago going outside and walking on a sidewalk with hundreds of other people.”
With some states like Georgia reopening businesses beginning this weekend, Pritzker warned that doing so would have dire consequences in a state where the peak rate of coronavirus cases has yet to be reached.
“It seems to me to remove it as some other governors may want to do is to simply open everything back up to infection,” Pritzker said. “We’ve heard Dr. Ngozi Ezike saying the last couple of days that the number of people being infected by a single person who is COVID-19 positive has gone down significantly since we’ve put the stay-at-home order in place. That will go right back up again if you remove all the restrictions.”
Illinois' total number of coronavirus cases climbed to 36,934 Thursday1,826 new cases were reported. There were also 123 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of fatalities associated with the virus in the state to 1,688.