Daily file photo by Emma Edmund
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday that Illinois will loosen COVID-19 restrictions on May 14 as part of a “bridge phase” before the state fully reopens on June 11.
The transitional phase beginning next week allows gyms, theaters, spectator events, zoos, offices, retail, museums and amusement parks to open at 60 percent capacity. Many of these places were capped at 25 to 50 percent of their capacity in Phase 4.
“The light we see at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and brighter as more people get vaccinated,” Pritzker said.
Pritzker’s office said the complete transition to Phase 5, which is a complete reopening, will happen after 50 percent of residents aged 16 and older have been vaccinated and the number of positive cases and hospitalizations stay steady or decrease during a 28-day monitoring period.
As of Thursday, almost 56 percent of Illinois residents have already received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Evanston is nearing the governor’s 50 percent threshold, with 76 percent of all residents having received at least one shot and 48 percent being fully vaccinated.
The Thursday announcement came as COVID-19 vaccines are becoming widely available in Illinois. On the same day, CVS Pharmacy announced it will join other vaccine providers in the state, including Walgreens, Walmart and Cook County in offering walk-in vaccine appointments.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady added that some 12 to15-year-olds may also be fully vaccinated by June. The Federal Drug Administration is expected to authorize the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for the age group next week.
However, even as Illinois prepares for a full reopening at the start of summer, Pritzker said residents should anticipate wearing masks while in public spaces. The state will continue to follow the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s mask-wearing guidelines.
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