SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Gov. J.B. Pritzker has released guidelines for Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois plan, which goes into effect on June 11.
Due to steady decreases in new positive COVID-19 cases, over 67 percent of residents 18 and older receiving at least one vaccine dose and the state reaching a test positivity rate of less than two percent, Gov. Pritzker said Illinois can fully reopen.
Under Phase 5 guidance, businesses, large-scale events, conventions, amusement parks and seated-spectator venues, among others, will be able to operate at full capacity.
The state is also lifting outdoor mask requirements in schools.
"After a tremendously challenging year, Illinois has now reached a defining moment in our efforts to defeat COVID-19," said Gov. Pritzker. "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."
These new guidelines also comes just in time for the Cubs to face one of their biggest rivals and Wrigley will be able to fill every single seat.
"Everyone chipped in, did their part and collectively we, we all got there," said Andrew Rizzo, Owner of Rizzo's Bar & Inn in Wrigleyville. "And now we're getting back to normal."
While the reopening is exciting, doctors still urge caution.
"They do not say everyone can go back to the same life that we all lived before covid," said Dr. Anna Volerman, an Associate Professor at the University of Chicago.
Though Dr. Volerman says we are getting close to that, the fight against the coronavirus is not over.
"There is more to be done in terms of protecting and vaccinating these individuals against COVID and ensuring that our rates stay down before we can say that this pandemic is over," said Dr. Volerman.
As the state enters into Phase 5, fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask except when required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules and regulations.
The state recommends unvaccinated persons continue to wear masks.
Masks will continue to be required for all people traveling on public transportation, in congregate settings, in health care settings, as well as in schools, day cares and educational institutions pursuant to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and CDC guidance, the state said.
"This pandemic has robbed us of many of our freedoms such as going to ball games and concerts, celebrating graduations, weddings, and birthdays, going to dinner with friends, and even sharing a hug with loved ones we don’t live with," said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. "The vaccine is giving us our freedoms back and allowing us to move to Phase 5. Let’s keep the vaccination momentum going so we can put this pandemic in the rearview mirror and not look back."
Phase 5 also marks the return of traditional conventions, festivals and large events without capacity restrictions.
Large gatherings of all sizes can resume across all industry settings, Gov. Pritzker said.
Phase 5 will remove the requirement that businesses institute mandatory social distancing in seated venues as well as daily health screenings of employees and visitors.
Businesses and venues should continue to allow for social distancing to the extent possible, especially indoors, the state said.
Businesses and local municipalities can put in place additional mitigations as they deem appropriate.
The state's advancement to Phase 5 comes after last month's announcement of the return of conventions and leisure travel to Illinois.
McCormick Place recently announced plans to reopen and will host 122 events. It expects to bring in 1.9 million convention goers.
The state has also recently launched a new tourism campaign to welcome out of state visitors back into communities, helping support a return to leisure activity.
"The State’s move to Phase 5 next week marks a significant milestone in our efforts to bring businesses and workers back safely and will play a key role in getting the economy back on track," said DCEO Acting Director Sylvia Garcia. "Under Governor Pritzker’s leadership, we are making steady progress in stabilizing our businesses and communities hit hardest during the course of the pandemic."
Earlier this week, Gov. Pritzker announced another $1.5 billion in funds to be made available through the FY 22 budget to support business grants, tourism recovery, workforce recovery, affordable housing, violence prevention, capital projects and other investments throughout Illinois communities.
Businesses and communities can learn more about Phase 5 recommended public health practices by visiting IDPH’s website.