Phase 4 Is Almost Here As Pritzker Issues Warning

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ACROSS ILLINOIS — Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday that all regions will move to Phase 4 on Friday, which means indoor dining will return, schools and day cares can reopen and expand their offerings, and theaters, museums and fitness centers will be back up and running. That was the good […]

ACROSS ILLINOIS — Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday that all regions will move to Phase 4 on Friday, which means indoor dining will return, schools and day cares can reopen and expand their offerings, and theaters, museums and fitness centers will be back up and running. That was the good news, as Pritzker said the number of coronavirus cases have continued to drop, along with hospitalizations, ventilator usage and deaths.

But, with the step forward, came a warning. Pritzker said during a news conference Thursday that he’s not afraid to move a region back if “we see a surge.”

“Ours will not be one of the states that takes no action,” he said, adding that the road ahead will be difficult.

Until there is a treatment or vaccine, the virus remains among the population, and people need to continue to wash their hands, keep their distance and wear their face masks, state officials reminded residents in Illinois.

“I’m likening not wearing a mask to playing a game of Russian roulette,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike said Thursday. Pritzker added the move to require masks led to “all our numbers stabilizing and then falling.”

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In the past day, 894 additional people tested positive for the new coronavirus, and there were 41 additional deaths statewide. To date, 139,434 people have contracted the virus in Illinois and 6,810 people have died. And as of Wednesday night, more than 1,600 people were in the hospital with COVID-19 symptoms, 399 were in intensive care units, and 216 were on ventilators, Ezike said.

Here is a closer look at what can open, and the safety guidelines in place, during Phase 4:

  • Meetings and events: Venues and meeting spaces can resume with up to 50 people or 50 percent of overall room capacity, whichever is less. Multiple groups are permitted, given facilities have space to appropriately social distance and can limit interaction between groups. This includes activities such as conferences and weddings.

  • Indoor and outdoor recreation: Bowling alleys, skating rinks and clubhouses can reopen. Under the new guidelines, indoor recreation can operate with up to 50 customers or 50 percent of the facility’s capacity. Outdoor recreation can include group sizes of up to 50 and permit multiple groups, given facilities have space to appropriately social distance and can limit interaction between groups. Concession stands will be permitted with restrictions.

  • Indoor dining: Indoor dining can reopen with groups of 10 or less, and tables must be spaced six feet apart in seated areas. In standing areas, no more than 25 percent capacity will be allowed.

  • Museums: Can reopen with no more than 25 percent occupancy. Interactive exhibits and rides will remain closed, and guided tours should be limited to 50 people or fewer per group. Museums should have a plan to limit congregation via advance ticket sales and timed ticketing. Concessions will be permitted with restrictions.

  • Zoos: Can reopen with no more than 25 percent occupancy, and, like museums, interactive exhibits, indoor exhibits, and rides will not operate. Guided tours should be limited to 50 people or fewer per group and, like museums, zoos should have a plan to limit congregation via advance ticket sales and timed ticketing. Concessions will also be permitted.

  • Cinemas and theaters: Indoor seated theaters, cinemas and performing arts centers can reopen with either fewer than 50 guests at a time or 50 percent of the overall theater or performance space capacity, which will apply to each screening room. Outdoor capacity will be limited to 20 percent of overall theater or performance space capacity. Concessions will be permitted with restrictions.

  • Outdoor seated spectator events: Outdoor spectator sports can resume at no more than 20 percent of seating capacity, and concessions will be permitted with restrictions.

  • Film production: No more than 50 percent of the capacity for a sound stage or filming location will be allowed. Crowd scenes should be limited to 50 people or fewer.

  • Youth and recreational sports: Revised guidelines allow competitive gameplay and tournaments; and youth and recreational sports venues can operate at 50 percent facility capacity and 20 percent seating capacity for spectators. In addition, group sizes of up to 50, with multiple groups permitted during practice and competitive games, will be allowed as long as venues have space to appropriately social distance and can limit interaction between groups. Concessions will also be permitted with restrictions.

  • Health and fitness centers: Revised guidelines allow gyms to open at 50 percent capacity and allow group fitness classes of up to 50 people with new safety guidelines. Multiple groups will be permitted given facilities have space to appropriately social distance and can limit interaction between groups.

  • Day camps: Water-based activities will be permitted in accordance with Illinois Department of Public guidelines. Day camps will be allowed with no more than 50 percent facility capacity and group size of no more than 15 participants, unless participants changing weekly.

This is a developing story. Check back to Patch for more information.

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This article originally appeared on the Across Illinois Patch

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