When will restaurants in Illinois be able to allow patrons to dine in again? Under Gov. J.B. Pritzker's reopening plan, not until late June at the very earliest - though that timeframe is far from guaranteed.
Pritzker unveiled his five-phase, region-by-region reopening plan on Tuesday. Illinois currently remains in the second phase of Pritzker's plan, in which all non-essential gatherings are banned and all bars and restaurants are allowed open for delivery, pickup and drive-through orders only.
All restaurants and bars in Illinois have been closed for dine-in service since March 16.
Any region of the state can begin entering phase three after seeing no overall increase in hospital admissions for COVID-19-like illness for 28 days, along with several other criteria, Pritzker said. That means the earliest any locations can move to the next phase would be on May 29 - though data has not yet shown if any region will be ready at that time.
Once in phase three, manufacturing, offices, retail, barbershops and salons can reopen to the public "with capacity and other limits and safety precautions." All gatherings will remain limited to 10 or fewer people, the plan says, with face coverings and social distancing still required.
But restaurants and bars will still be required to remain closed to dine-in customers through phase three. Only in phase four can restaurants and bars reopen with capacity limits and safety guidelines in place as approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health. Gatherings of 50 or fewer people will also be allowed in phase four, according to the plan, with face coverings and social distancing still required.
But moving to phase four requires another 28-day period with no overall increase in hospital admissions for coronavirus. If any region is able to move to phase three by May 29, an additional 28 days would mark June 26 as the absolute earliest date an area can move to phase four.
And the dates on which each of the state's four regions - northeast, north-central, central and southern Illinois - move into stage may be staggered. That means it's entirely possible that the Chicago area, the portion of the state hardest hit by the pandemic, may not see restaurants open for much longer after other regions.
No specific dates were given for when regions may begin entering phase four, nor does the plan detail what restaurant capacity limits may be.
Illinois' final stage, phase five, will allow all sectors of the economy to resume "normal operations." But that phase will only be reached if a vaccine is developed, if a COVID-19 treatment option is readily available, or if there are no new cases "over a sustained period," according to Pritzker's plan.