Chicago Stays Closed Until Next Month, While Rest of State Allows Outdoor Dining, Hair Salons, Small Gatherings

bebarnes | PixabayMost of Illinois will officially allow activities such as outdoor dining, salons and gatherings of 10 or less people to resume today, but Chicago isn’t moving as fast.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker officially gave the green light for the state to move into phase three of his COVID-19 reopening plan starting May 29, but the city of Chicago will be taking more time to ease restrictions.

All regions of Illinois are meeting the metrics the governor required for phase three, including a COVID-19 test positivity rate of under 20 percent and a steady or decreasing amount of people admitted to the hospital. 

Pritzker said all municipalities can decide whether to follow his guidelines or take stricter steps. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will be holding back on phase three reopening in the city until June 3, she said in a press conference May 28. 

Phase 3 of the plan includes the opening of outdoor seating at restaurants, barbershops and hair salons taking appointments, offices welcoming their employees back and gatherings of 10 or fewer people, Pritzker said. He emphasized social distancing should be followed and face coverings should be worn in these settings. 

With the ease of restrictions, Illinois’ stay-at-home order is now officially over and will be replaced with an executive order to reflect the changes in phase three. Today also marks the last daily COVID-19 press briefing since Pritzker started 82 days ago.

Prtizker said even though life is starting to return to normal, “the virus is still out there and still very dangerous.” 

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike said asymptomatic carriers are still a real risk to people, which is why face coverings and social distancing are important even as places reopen. 

Ezike said the state has seen an additional 1,622 cases of COVID-19 and 86 new deaths in the past 24-hours. The state continues to test Illinoisians for the virus each day, with 25,513 tests being administered in the last 24 hours. As of May 29, Illinois has 117,455 confirmed cases with 5,270 deaths total. 

The state’s contact tracing system — where contact tracers call people who may have been exposed to the virus and offer testing guidance and information — is beginning to increase as well, Ezike said. Contact tracers are key to fighting the virus, and will only call to give people information. Anyone calling that asks for personal information like bank accounts or social security numbers should be considered a scammer, she said.  

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