The list of things to do in Illinois is about to get a lot longer: Governor Pritzker has announced that Phase 3 of the five-step “Restore Illinois” plan will launch on May 29. Salons, barbershops, offices, state parks and, yes, bars will be partially back in business at the end of the month.
But in Chicago, according to Mayor Lightfoot, the next stage of the process will probably happen a little later.
"I can't give you a precise date, as much as I would love to and I know people want," she said during an interview with NBC5's Mary Ann Ahern on May 21.
The mayor described several "public health metrics" that the city needed to meet before reopening.
"Overall hospitalizations, number of COVID patients in ICUs, ventilators, positivity rates, percentage of testing: all of those things are trending overall in the right direction now," she said. "We still continue to see significant challenges in the LatinX community and we're continuing to really pour resources on the northwest side and the southwest side towards the rest of those challenges."
Although she believes that "incredible progress" has been made towards achieving the proper metrics, she seemed doubtful that it would happen before May 29.
"I'm hopeful that in the near term we're going to be able to start to slowly turn the dimmer switch to start the reopening," she said.
When Phase 3 eventually does arrive in Chicago, a few general conditions will remain in place. Gatherings of more than ten are still off limits, people who don’t live together shouldn’t get too close to one another and wearing face masks in public is still recommended.
Additionally, venues serving food and drink will be permitted to seat and serve customers in outdoor areas only, provided that the tables are six feet apart and away from sidewalks. Restaurant staff must continue to wear face masks and observe social distancing measures.
The Restore Illinois public health plan was introduced on May 5. Touted by the governor as a way to “safely reintroduce the parts of our lives that have been put on hold in our fight against COVID-19,” it was hailed as a wise safety precaution by some and denounced as a breach of individual freedom by others.
Designed to reduce “Rapid Spread,” the conditions of Phase 1 included “strict stay at home and social distancing guidelines.” Phase 2’s “Flattening” description allowed for “non-essential retail stores (to) reopen for curb-side pickup and delivery.”
Although Phase 3 does not represent a return to complete pre-COVID reality, if there is such a thing, it does offer some relief.
During a press conference on May 19, Governor Pritzker explained that the decision was made after consulting data, science, and guidance from public health experts and stakeholders across the state.
"We are by no means out of the woods, but directionally, things are getting better," he said. "Our mission has always been to get people back to work, get students back to school and return to as much normalcy as possible without jeopardizing the health and safety of Illinoisans."
To help bolster the effort, the governor’s administration has delivered over $14 million in small business grants averaging $20,000 to 699 bars, restaurants, and hotels across 270 individual cities in Illinois.
According to a press release, the partial reopening measures of Phase 3 will allow restaurants to re-open at a risk comparable to other outdoor activities, while giving the state's hospitality industry a much-needed boost. Additionally, the state and the Illinois Department of Public Health will be issuing formal industry-specific guidance, particularly around workplaces and childcare, for business owners and employees in these and other sectors.
Open for Business (almost)
A partial list of activities permitted during "Phase 3"
Indoor and outdoor tennis facilities will be permitted to operate with Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) safety precautions and capacity limits.
Golf courses can allow foursomes out on the same tee times. Carts will also be permitted with one person per cart, or one immediate household per cart.
Boating or camping with up to ten people will be permitted.
Driving ranges, outdoor shooting ranges, and paintball courses will receive guidance on how to safely reopen their doors.
Health clubs, gyms, and fitness studios can provide one-on-one personal training in indoor facilities and outdoor fitness classes of up to ten people.
Nail salons, tattoo shops, hair braiders, spas and barbershops, can open with IDPH safety precautions and capacity limits.
Retail stores can open their doors to in-person shopping with IDPH safety precautions and capacity limits in place.