CHICAGO - On Thursday, local public health officials issued Phase 5 reopening guidance for suburban Cook County.
The guidance, which goes into effect Friday when the state fully reopens, removes all capacity limits and restrictions on all sectors of the economy.
In suburban Cook County, because at least 50 percent of residents ages 16 and older are vaccinated and COVID-19 metrics continue to decline, the region has met Phase 5 guidelines.
"It’s been a long 18 months, but we continue see a steady improvement in metrics while the vaccination rates have climbed, which allows us to return to a more normal way of life," Dr. Rachel Rubin, Senior Public Health Medical Officer and Co-Lead of the Cook County Department of Public Health, said in a statement.
Large events – such as conventions, festivals and more – can starting Friday be at full capacity, officials said. Phase 5 also allows businesses, schools and recreation to resume normal operations with new safety guidance:
- For businesses and venues where everyone present is fully vaccinated, the state does not require face coverings and social distancing in both indoor and outdoor settings.
- Businesses and municipalities are permitted to continue requiring face coverings and social distancing as they deem appropriate.
- For businesses and venues where everyone present is not fully vaccinated, unvaccinated persons should wear a face covering and maintain six feet social distancing.
- Businesses and venues may continue to require face coverings and/or social distancing. At outdoor businesses and venues, unvaccinated persons may choose not to wear a face covering when able to maintain a six-foot social distance when outdoors, unless required to do so by a business or municipality.
- Individuals in schools, day care settings, and educational institutions should continue to follow separate guidance issued by the Illinois State Board of Education, Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, and Illinois Department of Public Health.
"We’re approaching the end of the pandemic tunnel, but we still encourage everyone over the age of 12 to get vaccinated to protect your family and community," Dr. Kiran Joshi, Senior Medical Officer and Co-Lead of the Cook County Department of Public Health, said in a statement.
The current 7-day rolling average of coronavirus cases reported in suburban Cook County is 131 – which is down from 216 last week.
Officials warn, however, that if there is a resurgence in COVID metrics, Cook County could revert to a previous phase.
Important to note that there will still be some setting where individuals, including those fully vaccinated, will have to wear masks. This includes 1) on public transportation, 2) in congregate facilities, 3) in health care settings, and where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.