As coronavirus metrics continue to improve in the state of Illinois, officials are providing a roadmap back to normality, with the potential full reopening of the state on the horizon.
If all goes according to plan in coming weeks, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker says that the state could enter Phase Five of its reopening plan as soon as June 11. That would mean that most COVID-19 mitigation rules would be eliminated, and businesses would be able to operate at full capacity.
Here are the latest dates that are on the radar of officials in the state and city of Chicago:
May 14: Illinois Moves to “Bridge Phase”
The first step on the road to a full reopening is the long-awaited “Bridge Phase,” so named because it would represent a bridge between Phase Four, where the state has largely been since earlier this year, and Phase Five, which would be a full reopening of all businesses and a removal of nearly all COVID-19 mitigations.
The “Bridge Phase” would allow for higher capacity limits in a wide variety of businesses, and would also allow for significant upticks in capacity limits at outdoor events as well.
Under current metrics, the state is poised to enter that phase next week, but it will depend on numbers continuing to trend in the right direction, according to officials.
June 11: Potential Date for “Phase Five”
If current trends continue, and the state of Illinois continues to see increases in vaccinations and decreases in COVID cases and hospitalizations, then the state could potentially enter Phase Five as soon as June 11.
In that phase, all COVID mitigations will be halted, with the possible exception of the state’s mask mandate. According to Pritzker, the state will follow CDC guidance on masks, meaning that facial coverings could still potentially be required in indoor spaces and in outdoor spaces where physical distancing is not possible.
The big unanswered question is whether Chicago would join the rest of the state in moving to Phase Five. While city officials say they are targeting July 4 as their date to reopen, they did say they would join the rest of Illinois in the “Bridge Phase,” and would evaluate reopening on a rolling basis.
“This next step in our cautious and responsible reopening plan will allow for an extensive expansion of capacity limits across industries that broadly align with state regulations – details are available on the reopening website and more information will be shared in the coming days to help businesses prepare for the new regulations,” a spokesperson for Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. While we have made significant progress and look forward to taking this step next week, we will only be able to fully reopen when we see continued improvement in COVID metrics and more widespread vaccine uptake.”
July 4: Chicago’s Target Date for Reopening
The city of Chicago is expected to announce its plans for reopening “in the coming weeks,” according to a statement from Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office.
It is unclear whether the city will follow the state’s lead when it comes to a full reopening, but in the past the city has tended to use its own metrics to determine mitigation steps.
Earlier this week, Lightfoot said that Chicago is on track to be “fully open” 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 this 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."