Illinois ‘reopens’ June 11, but keep those masks on, Pritzker says

Illinois ‘reopens’ June 11, but keep those masks on, Pritzker says

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker wants to keep those masks on Illinoisans, he said in announcing a June 11 target to reopen the state. The reopening ‘bridge’ phase he added in March may begin May 14.

Illinois might be “free of pandemic-related mitigations” as soon as June 11, but Gov. J.B. Pritzker said to keep those masks on.

“Barring any significant reversals in key COVID-19 statewide indicators, Illinois will move to Phase 5 normal business operations, free of pandemic-related mitigations, as soon as Friday, June 11,” Pritzker said May 6. “Whenever we reach Phase 5, we will continue to follow CDC guidelines on masking to keep this pandemic at bay.”

Pritzker first set out his reopening metrics over a year ago, but in March added a “bridge phase” he now says could be reached May 14. It allows up to 250 attendees indoors or 500 attendees outdoors; 60% capacity for conventions, spectator events, zoos and museums; and groups of 10 at restaurants.

Illinois was at a 3% positive 7-day test rate on May 6 with over one-third of the population fully vaccinated. Pritzker has imposed statewide mandates by declaring Illinois a disaster area 16 times, with state lawmakers remaining silent on his ability to repeatedly declare a 30-day disaster for the same event.

Other states have been much quicker to fully reopen, with 15 states lifting all restrictions by the end of March. Those included two of Illinois’ neighbors, Missouri and Iowa. Retail stocks surged on news New York, New Jersey and Connecticut would lift most of their restrictions by May 19.

Illinois still had 482,661 idled workers collecting unemployment benefits as of May 1.

After the worst year for jobs in the state’s history, loosening restrictions on businesses and events should be a boon for Illinois’ economic recovery. June 11 can’t come soon enough.

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