Catherine Buchaenic / Daily Senior Staffer
The state will enter the fourth stage of its coronavirus reopening plan Friday.
Phase 4 permits bars, fitness centers, museums, zoos, performance venues and theatres to reopen with limited capacity, as well as indoor dining at restaurants. Gatherings of 50 or fewer will also be allowed, expanded from the limit of 10 people in Phase 3. This could affect key activities such as meetings, events and funerals.
In Evanston, the following community centers could see limited reopenings: Robert Crown Center, Evanston Ecology Center, Noyes Cultural Arts Center and Fleetwood-Jourdain Center. All summer camps and recreation programs can reopen with safety restrictions as well.
Schools could also resume in-person instruction in the fall, under guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health. But parents and administrators have expressed concern about the safety of in-person instruction, especially for at-risk kids. Evanston/Skokie School District 65 currently has a task force that is looking at four possible reopening plans, each of which offer varying levels of in-person and remote instruction.
The five-pronged “Restore Illinois” plan is based on public health metrics, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has repeatedly said. On June 19, the governor said the rate of infection among those tested and the number of patients admitted to hospitals has declined across the state, putting Illinois on track for Phase 4.
Evanston has seen an average of two new cases per day over the last seven-day operational period, Mayor Steve Hagerty wrote in an email to residents Tuesday. Just under 2 percent of tests have come back as positive.
In order to enter the fifth and final stage, a vaccine must be developed and made widely available. At a meeting with local business owners Wednesday, Public Health Manager Greg Olsen said the city does not anticipate the state will reach the final phase anytime soon.
“We’re in Phase 4 now. We want to stay in Phase 4…We want to go forward, but that’ll be a while,” said Olsen. “It’s extremely important you remind staff to stay vigilant…in following guidelines.”
At the meeting, Olsen warned business owners that Evanston and the state of Illinois could retreat back a stage if cases increased.
Here is a breakdown of IDPH guidelines by industry. Economic Development Manager Paul Zalmezak said the city would not provide any additional requirements to the “already strict” guidelines from the state. :
All employees should continue to work from home, if possible.
Shopping: Retail stores can operate at 50 percent of store capacity.
Restaurants and bars: Tables should maintain at least six feet of distance. Outdoor dining is preferred, and indoor dining is limited to gatherings of up to 10 people. Standing areas are limited to 25 percent of capacity.
Health and fitness: Fitness studios can operate up to 50 percent of capacity. Group classes are permitted, with a capacity of up to 50 people.
Museums: Museums can operate up to 25 percent of its capacity.
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