Plan to reopen illinois

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker today released his administration’s plan to reopen the state of Illinois and ease the lockdown from the coronavirus pandemic.

Titled Restore Illinois, the report is Pritzker’s 5 stage plan to “safely reopen our state.”

For the music community’s interest: festivals and gatherings of “more than 50 people” will not be permitted until “Phase 5” – the final stage marked by the availability of a vaccine or zero new infections.

According to Governor Pritzker, Illinois is currently in “Phase 2,” called “Flattening” which is marked by a slower rate of infections and patients requiring hospitalization, “moving toward a flat or even downward trajectory… To varying degrees, every region is experiencing flattening as of early May.”

The earliest any region can move from Phase 2 to Phase 3 is May 29, the Governor said.

Moving from Phase 3 to Phase 4 – which will mark a significant liberalization of current public health restrictions – will take at least as long. Phase 4 will require the state to register 28 consecutive days with no overall increase in hospital admissions, plus widespread testing for those without symptoms or risk factors and comprehensive contact tracing. That would mark the date for lifting the limit on public gatherings from 10 people to 50 in late June at the very earliest.

The plan splits up Illinois into several health regions, some of which could theoretically advance into the later stages of relaxed restrictions on public behavior before others. Several Illinois have reported single digit infections of COVID-19 while Chicago, Cook County and the collar counties have been one of the national epicenters.

It is also possible for regions to move backward. Any region can slip from Phase 2 back into Phase 1 through an increase in the rates of infection and hospitalization, reduced hospital capacity or another significant outbreak.

The public activities allowed in different phases vary. For some relevant examples:

  • Manufacturing, non-essential businesses and barbers and salons can open with Illinois Department of Public Health guidance under Phase 3.
  • Bars, restaurants and movie theaters can reopen “with capacity limits and IDPH approved safety guidance” in Phase 4. (Bars and restaurants will continue to be limited to drive thru and pick-up under Phase 3.)
  • Gatherings are limited to 10 people or less under Phase 3, 50 people or fewer under Phase 4 and unlimited at Phase 5, which we might call something like “normality,” albeit with “new health and hygiene practices permanently in place.”

Phase 5 will be achieved when “testing, tracing and treatment are widely available throughout the state,” and “either a vaccine is developed to prevent additional spread of COVID-19, a treatment option is readily available that ensures health care capacity is no longer a concern, or there are no new cases over a sustained period.”

Most music festivals have cancelled events through June. The new guidance confirms that clubs and entertainment night life events will probably be impossible before the end of June at the earliest – and with a club capacity limited to 50 then.

As Pritzker was announcing the new plan, Illinois reported its deadliest day since the pandemic began with 176 fatalities on Monday.


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