Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday that Illinois will move into the Bridge Phase of reopening on May 14 and the state could be fully reopened without limits as soon as June.
Pritzker made the announcement during a press conference Thursday afternoon at the James Thompson Center in Chicago.
“This good news comes with a caveat. We have all seen throughout this pandemic that this virus and its variants have proven to be unpredictable. Metrics that look strong today are far from a guarantee of how things will look a week, two weeks, a month from now,” Pritzker said.
He said that we now have “tools in our arsenal” like vaccines and masks that are “extremely effective.”
Pritzker added that the days of vaccine scarcity are over and his administration is beginning to send vaccine doses to doctor’s offices through Illinois.
Illinois could move into Phase 5 of its reopening plan on June 11 based on the May 14 date of the Bridge Phase advancement, Pritzker said during his press conference.
Every health region of the state is currently in Phase 4 of the five-phase Restore Illinois mitigation plan, with Phase 5 comprising a post-pandemic return to normalcy with 100% capacity limits.
The “Bridge Phase,” which is between Phase 4 and Phase 5, serves as a transition period with higher capacity limits and increased business operations.
The Bridge Phase consists of the following limits: standing areas for dining capped at 30% indoor and 50% outdoor; health and fitness at 60% capacity and group classes of 50 or fewer indoors; festivals and outdoor spectator events at 30 people per 1,000 square feet; flea and farmers markets capped at 15 people per 1,000 square feet indoor and 30 people per 1,000 square feet outdoor; conferences and conventions capped at the lesser of 1,000 people or 60% capacity; recreation businesses capped at the lesser of 100 people or 50% capacity indoor; social events capped at 250 people indoor and 500 people outdoor.
Offices, personal care businesses, retail and service counter businesses, amusement parks, film production, museums, ticketed and seated spectator events, theaters and performing arts, and zoos will be capped at 60% in the Bridge Phase.
All regions of the state will move through the Bridge Phase and ultimately to Phase 5 together. The state’s mask mandate will continue in accordance with current CDC guidance, the governor has said.
The bridge to Phase 5 allows for higher capacity limits at places like museums, zoos and spectator events as well as increased business operations.
To advance into the Bridge Phase, the entire state must reach a 70% first dose vaccination rate for residents 65 and over, which it has already met.
The state must also maintain a 20% or lower ICU bed availability rate and hold steady on COVID-19 hospital admissions, mortality rate and case rate over a 28-day monitoring period.
Currently, the state has seen an increasing trend in COVID-19 deaths, which is holding back the advancement to the Bridge Phase until May 14.