Illinois Governor Unveils Regional, 5-Phase Reopening Plan

It will not be 'one size fits all'

WBBM Newsradio Staff
May 05, 2020 - 3:10 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker on Tuesday unveiled a five-phase, regional plan to eventually reopen the state from its coronavirus-related lockdown but offered a sobering qualification: the final phase, including the ability to hold large events like conventions and concerts, won’t come until there is a vaccine or effective treatment for COVID-19.

Pritzker said restrictions will be eased in four regions of the state — Northeast, North Central, Central and Southern Illinois — based on individual metrics and not uniformly. The next wave of restrictions-lifting won’t happen before the end of the month, when his current stay-at-home order expires.

“There is no modern-day precedent for this. We are quite literally writing the playbook as we go,” Pritzker said at his daily media briefing as he discussed a reopening plan called “Restore Illinois.” 

The governor said face masks and coverings will be a part of normal life for the foreseeable future, but he envisions the gradual reopening of several types of businesses that have been mothballed.

Restore Illinois

Pritzker said Illinois currently is in Phase 2 of the reopening plan, with more businesses and sectors allowed to reopen with restrictions. 

He said regions would be able to move into a slightly more relaxed Phase 3 when they hit certain scientific metrics and provided they have enough hospital capacity. In Phase 3, gyms would be allowed to offer outdoor classes and one-on-one personal training, barbershops and hair salons woud reopen and gatherings of up to 10 people would be allowed.

Phase 4, dubbed the “Revitalization” phase, would allow for cinemas, retail stores, bars and restaurants and other facilities to reopen with restrictions. Gatherings would be capped at 50 people. Schools would be able to reopen potentially, the governor said, by employing social-distancing techniques and with guidance from health experts. 

Phase 5, dubbed “Restored Illinois,” would be the return to pre-pandemic normalcy, or something like it. Pritzker emphasized the return of large events, such as conventions, concerts and festivals, won’t occur until there is a coronavirus vaccine, an effective treatment or a virtual absence of new cases.

“It brings me no joy to say this,” the governor said.

Phase 1 was the strict stay-at-home order Pritzker issued in March as coronavirus infections spread. His administration has sought to "bend the curve" in the number of new infections so that hospitals would not be overwhelmed. But the impact has been devastating to public-oriented businesses such as music venues and cinemas that have been forced to close. Restaurants have been allowed to sell food for carryout or delivery, but the dine-in trade has been decimated.

Just a day after expressing optimism that Illinois was turning the corner on the number of new deaths related to COVID-19, Pritzker’s administration on Tuesday reported the largest 24-hour jump in the number of fatalities linked to the novel coronavirus.

Ngozi Ezike, director the Illinois Department of Public Health, said 176 people died of COVID-19 in the span of a day, bringing the state’s known death toll to 2,838. 

This contrasted with the relatively low number of deaths — 33— reported Monday. Pritzker warned against taking any one day of data as a trend. 

Also Tuesday, the IDPH reported 2,122 new cases of coronavirus, for a known statewide total of 65,962.

The complete Restore Illinois plan can be found here. 


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