Do you still have to wear a mask in Illinois even as the state fully reopens?
The answer is: it depends.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker last week released the guidelines for Phase 5 and what exactly it means for residents.
Under the new reopening stage, which began Friday, the state lifted its outdoor mask requirement in schools in line with guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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According to the state's guidelines, upon entering Phase 5, fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.
Illinois will continue to recommend face coverings for unvaccinated residents, however.
Regardless of vaccination status, masks will still be required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation; in transportation hubs, such as airports and train and bus stations; in congregate facilities such as correctional facilities, veterans’ homes, and long-term care facilities, group homes, and residential facilities; and in healthcare settings.
According to the governor, entry into Phase 5 means "businesses, large-scale events, conventions, amusement parks, and seated-spectator venues, among others, will be able to operate at full capacity for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic."
“After a tremendously challenging year, Illinois has now reached a defining moment in our efforts to defeat COVID-19,” Pritzker said. “Thanks to the hard work of residents across the state, Illinois will soon resume life as we knew it before – returning to events, gatherings, and a fully reopened economy, with some of the safety guidelines we’ve adopted still in place."
While the removal of occupancy limits and other rules represents a significant step forward in the COVID pandemic, state officials have cautioned residents that it is possible for the state to move back to previous phases in the following instances:
- If hospital admissions for COVID-19 illnesses increase to more than 150 hospitalizations per day over a 10-day monitoring period.
- If the number of COVID patients in hospitals climbs above 750 and stays there for more than 10 days.
- If the state’s mortality rate increases and goes above a 0.1 daily average.
- If ICU bed availability statewide drops below 20% over a 10-day monitoring period.