Chicago will fully reopen in Phase 5 on June 11 with the rest of Illinois, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Thursday.
"Because you've masked up, socially distanced and got vaccinated, we're now moving to Phase 5 on Friday, June 11 in alignment with the state. This means Chicago is scheduled to fully reopen," Lightfoot tweeted.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced last month that Illinois - currently in the Bridge Phase, which is a transitional period before a full reopening in Phase 5 - was on track to move to that final phase of the plan on June 11.
At that time, Lightfoot said Chicago was aiming to be "fully open" by the Fourth of July holiday and that such a shift would take place when the city sees "continued improvement in COVID metrics and more widespread vaccine uptake."
Chicago is seeing a rolling seven-day average of 135 new COVID cases per day, which is down 44% from last week and under the 200 cases per day metric that the city's health officials have long said would indicate that the pandemic's spread is more under control.
Hospitalizations are down 57% from the prior week as of Thursday and deaths are down to an average of four per day, city data shows. The percent positivity in coronavirus testing was at 2.0% Wednesday - which Lightfoot highlighted as the city's lowest rate since March 2020.
"We know the vaccine is safe and works," Lightfoot tweeted Wednesday. "Getting everyone vaccinated is key to our safe reopening strategy. This is a big deal. Let’s keep the great momentum folks. Get vaxxed."
Lightfoot hinted at an earlier reopening date at a news conference following Wednesday's City Council meeting, when she was asked if the city was prepared to join the state, should Illinois enter Phase 5 on June 11 as planned.
"I believe that we've talked about - we meaning myself and [Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady] - that we hope to get to fully open by Fourth of July. We will see what happens by June 11," Lightfoot said Wednesday. "We're definitely trending in the right direction, but the minute I say that I worry because we've been here before. But our cases are going down, our percent positivity is going down, hospitalizations, ICU - all the metrics that we follow on a daily basis are all trending in the right direction, but we've got to keep getting people vaccinated. But my hope is that we're going to keep moving on the trajectory that we're on, and we're going to see more opportunities for opening up."
Phase 5 will remove all capacity limits and restrictions on all sectors of the economy, with "businesses, schools and recreation resuming normal operations with new safety guidance and procedures," according to state officials.
Conventions, festivals and large events will also be able to resume, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Last month, the city of Chicago announced it will no longer require masks for fully vaccinated people in most settings following similar changes from the state of Illinois and revised guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Under the current Bridge Phase, which began in Illinois and the city of Chicago on May 14, a number of establishments, such as offices, retail counters, amusement parks, museums, theaters and zoos are limited to 60% capacity. For restaurants, not including those in Chicago, patrons must be seated at least 6 feet apart, and parties must consist of 10 people or fewer. Capacity is limited to 30% indoors and 50% outdoors.
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Once 50% of residents age 16 and older have been vaccinated and stable or declining COVID-19 metrics are recorded during a 28-day period, Phase 5 will begin, IDPH stated. All of the state's health care regions will enter the final reopening phase together, as was the case with the Bridge Phase.
Illinois could revert back to a previous phase in its reopening plan if there is a resurgence in the pandemic, officials have said. 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%