chicago reopening plan

Watch Live: Mayor Lori Lightfoot Updates on Chicago's Reopening Plan

Note: The mayor's news conference can be watched live in the video player above beginning at around 10:30 a.m.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is expected to give an update on the city's reopening plan Thursday.

Lightfoot will join city leaders to "provide an update on Chicago’s reopening efforts" at 10:30 a.m. at Navy Pier's Crystal Gardens, according to her public schedule. The event can be watched live in the video player above.

The update comes days after the city's top doctor said Chicago would likely soon see additional reopening announcements if vaccine uptake continues to increase and COVID metrics continue to decline.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Tuesday she expects the city to begin "turning that dial" and allowing further reopening in the coming days and weeks. She did not specify what that reopening might include, however.

"We will be, I expect to sort of over just the next few days, be turning that dial and be announcing some additional reopening because you heard we're making some really good progress here, but I want people to hear that within that reopening we are making the assumption that Chicagoans will continue to make that decision to get vaccinated," Arwady said during a press conference.

She noted that some of the reopenings will offer further opportunities for vaccinated residents.

"They're going to be able to get back to the fun with a lot less worry," she said.

Chicago officials last updated the reopening guidance on March 25, keeping most indoor restrictions in place, but increasing outdoor capacity limits at some establishments as the city faced "worrying increases" in COVID-19 metrics.

The guidelines put in place March 25 include:

  • Bars and Restaurants: 
    • Indoors: 50% capacity with no more than 50 people per space; table size < 6
    • Outdoors: 6 feet between parties; table size < 10
    • Seating at bars/counters limited to 4 per party indoors and outdoors
    • Standing areas remain closed
  • Social Events (e.g. weddings, potlucks and other community events): 
    • Indoors: 50% capacity with no more than 50 people
    • Outdoors: 50% capacity with no more than 100 people
  • Performance Venues, Theaters and Seated Spectator Events:
    • Indoors: 50% capacity with no more than 50 people
    • Outdoor venues with capacity < 200: 50% capacity with no more than 50 people
    • Outdoor venues with capacity >200: 25% capacity
  • Outdoor Recreation: 
    • Indoors: 50% capacity with no more than 50 people
    • Outdoors: groups limited to 50; multiple groups allowed
  • Places of Worship:
    • Indoors: 50% capacity with no more than 50 people
    • Outdoors: No capacity limit; maintain 6ft between parties
  • Health and Fitness Centers: 50% capacity; group classes limited to 50 indoors or 100 outdoors

As part of its reopening plan, the state of Illinois 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 before 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.

Arwady also revealed plans on Tuesday for a possible Vax Pass that could be the key to attending summer events.

"So certainly, as we build vaccine confidence and convenience, we're interested in thinking about ways to incentivize people to get the vaccine," Arwady said. "I would hope that for most people, their their main incentive is to be able to stay healthy, keep their families healthy, keep their communities healthy. But we also know, younger people in particular, may be excited about the idea of getting into events."

Although she said non-vaccinated people will still be eligible to attend concerts this summer, those with the Vax Pass could receive limited access, along with other "incentives."

Arwady's comments came as she revealed the city plans to follow new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on wearing masks outdoors, calling the changes "exciting."

The CDC said Tuesday that vaccinated people don't need to cover their faces anymore unless they are in a big crowd of strangers. Officials said a focus in the coming weeks will be on easing guidance for vaccinated people, both in recognition of their lower risk and to provide an incentive to get shots.

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