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Lake, McHenry counties officially move with rest of state into Phase 5 of no COVID restrictions

The McHenry County Fair, which was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, is scheduled to take place August 3 through August 8. | Photo via McHenry County Fair website.

Lake and McHenry counties, along with the rest of Illinois, are officially in Phase 5, meaning 100% capacity limits and the end of other COVID-19 restrictions on businesses and events.

The state on Friday eliminated all capacity limits and social distancing requirements on businesses, large-scale events, conventions, amusement parks, and all other venues, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.

Fully vaccinated people in Illinois do not have to wear a mask inside or outside except where required by federal or local rules such as public transportation and in health care settings.

Individuals in schools and daycares must continue to wear face coverings under guidance issued by the state.

McHenry County Board Chairman Michael Buehler said residents have waited “15 long months for this day.”

“McHenry County is open for business, our children will be returning to full- time, in-person learning this fall, and we can once again attend our many summer festivals that make McHenry County unique,” Buehler said in a statement.

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“This momentous day – a breath of fresh air after more than a year of lockdowns and restrictions that affected every facet of our lives – could not have been possible without the help of the public in following guidelines, the selfless dedication of our first responders and essential workers, and the can-do American spirit exemplified in Operation Warp Speed, which resulted in a safe and effective vaccine developed in record time,” Buehler said.

He added that there is still a “lot of cleaning up to do” and the county will be unveiling in the coming months their “McHenry County Rescue Plan” to help struggling residents.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike called the move to Phase 5 of the state’s reopening plan “a very exciting time.”

“It is important for unvaccinated people to continue to wear masks while in public and to socially distance. The virus can continue to spread among unvaccinated individuals, which could lead to additional mutations and new, more virulent variants,” Ezike said.

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Illinois is recording the lowest number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, the lowest test positivity rate and more than 68% of adult residents in Illinois who have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

11.9 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to Illinois residents. More than 88% of Illinois seniors have received at least one dose of vaccine.