July may be when Pritzker cautiously lifts Illinois COVID-19 restrictions
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Illinois could fully reopen in July, but fully reopen with some permanent restrictions. The state has yet to enter the ‘bridge phase’ to reopening that he added in March.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker predicts the state is on track to fully reopen in July, hitting his Phase 5: Illinois Restored metrics. But “fully reopen” and “Illinois Restored” are misleading terms, details in his plan show.
Phase 5 is defined as: “All sectors of the economy reopen with new health and hygiene practices permanently in place.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on May 3 lifted all COVID-19 restrictions. Retail stocks surged on news New York, New Jersey and Connecticut would lift most of their restrictions May 19.
Illinois hit its lowest infection rate in more than a month, with a 3.3% positivity rate, on the day Pritzker said July was a maybe.
Illinois is still waiting to start the “Bridge Phase” Pritzker added in March. Maybe in a week, Pritzker said May 4.
Then maybe in July the state’s economy can look forward to those permanent “practices.”
“But I’m optimistic,” Pritzker said. “I think things are going in the right direction.”
After a 28-day monitoring period of continued stability or decline in key COVID-19 metrics, Illinois would lift all capacity limits and resume large gatherings with new safety protocols.
Pritzker delivered his news with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot as they announced the Chicago Auto Show will take place at McCormick Place from July 15 to 19. Lightfoot said her goal is to have Chicago fully open by July 4.
“We’re seeing on a daily basis steady progress in all the metrics that we follow, particularly new case rates, hospitalizations and percent positivity,” Lightfoot said. “All of those things are trending in the right direction and our modeling suggests that’s going to continue to do so at a time when we’re seeing steady progress on vaccines.”
Currently, 32.5% of the state is fully vaccinated.
While the state has met its vaccination goals for its senior population, the April spike in cases and hospitalizations in Illinois pushed back plans to loosen restrictions in Illinois.
Chicago announced last week that it’s easing some restrictions around indoor dining and events as more residents get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the positivity rate continues to decline.
Chicago restaurants and bars are up to 50% capacity or 100 people per room, whichever is smaller. Large indoor venues, including the United Center and churches, can operate at 25% capacity.
Meetings, conferences and conventions can operate at 25% or 250 people. Outdoor festivals, outdoor spectator events and flea and farmers markets can operate at 25% capacity or 15 people per 1,000 square feet.
Lightfoot reiterated in the press conference that vaccination is the pathway to “get our economy back on track, get our workers back, get our businesses back.”
Pritzker urged caution: “We can’t predict the future and this virus has proven to be very challenging.”