Illinois reopens June 11, but keep those masks handy

Illinois reopens June 11, but keep those masks handy

Illinoisans on June 11 will take off their masks and breathe a sigh of relief – except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance and Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s mandates.

Following weeks of steady decline in new positive COVID-19 cases and key hospitalization metrics, and with over half of residents 12 and older fully vaccinated, Illinois is set to reopen June 11 – with some rules still in place.

“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,” said Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Here are the details of what Pritzker calls “Phase 5,” which is not exactly back to normal, and begins June 11.

Masks: They are still recommended for unvaccinated people. They are required on public transit including in terminals, in schools, day cares, health care settings and congregate settings such as prisons or nursing homes. Businesses and local municipalities may still require masks, but vaccinated people can remove their masks in most settings.

Social distancing: Businesses no longer need to enforce social distancing rules in seated venues such as restaurants and theaters. They no longer need to do daily health screenings of employees. Capacities can return to normal.

Gatherings: Conventions, festivals, concerts, ballgames and other large gatherings can return to normal without capacity limits. Same with weddings, funerals, church services and parties. McCormick Place convention center in Chicago is reopening with 122 events, 1,000 workers and an expected 1.9 million conventioneers headed there.

Schools: Masks on inside. No masks required outside, in most situations. In-person learning is expected to resume with the new school year.

Work: Social distancing is still recommended to the extent possible. Workplaces may have additional requirements on masks and health rules, but those will not be state mandates.

Learn more about Phase 5 and recommended public health practices by visiting the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website.

While more than half of Illinoisans age 12 and up are fully vaccinated and and about 60% have received at least one dose, the daily vaccination rates have dropped.

“The vaccine is giving us our freedoms back and allowing us to move to Phase 5,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “Let’s keep the vaccination momentum going so we can put this pandemic in the rearview mirror and not look back.”

Pritzker in early May predicted June 11 would be the return to the new normal, but that didn’t stop him from issuing his 16th state disaster proclamation to extend his emergency powers until June 26. At the end of the current 30-day declaration, Pritzker will have wielded emergency powers for 474 consecutive days without state lawmakers weighing in on his mandates or policies.

Most states have not allowed emergency powers to last indefinitely. Emergency executive powers are meant to allow the governor to quickly address a disaster in a way that a deliberative body such as the General Assembly simply cannot. But when the disaster is more than a year old, there is little reason for rules to be dictated rather than debated and implemented by elected representatives.

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