Governor J.B. Pritzker announced at a press conference today that Illinois will move to the Bridge Phase of the Restore Illinois plan on May 14. That means the state could enter Phase 5 of the plan as early as June 11, where there are no capacity limits for indoor or outdoor gatherings.
“For restaurants and bars and retail and weddings and public gatherings, this means higher capacity limits and a very hopeful move toward full reopening,” said Governor Pritzker.
What is the Bridge Phase?
The Bridge Phase will allow for slightly increased capacity limits for both indoor and outdoor settings. The next step after the Bridge Phase is moving into Phase 5, which enforces no capacity limits. Governor Pritzker said the state could move to Phase 5 as early as June 11, the required 28 days after the Bridge Phase is entered.
More than 60% of adult residents of Illinois have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That number jumps above 85% when considering just those over the age of 65. To move to Phase 5, 50% of residents 16 and older will need to have received at least one dose and certain metrics need to be declining or stable over the 28-day monitoring period.
Don’t Throw Out Masks Yet
And while Phase 5 will allow businesses and other gathering places to operate at full capacity, Pritzker said mask-wearing will still be encouraged to continue to slow transmission.
“Whenever we reach Phase 5 we will continue to follow CDC guidelines on mask-wearing to keep COVID-19 at bay,” he said. “What we do know is we have tools in our arsenal like vaccines and wearing masks that if we all use them, have proven extremely effective.”
New Ways to Get Vaccinated
Pritzker also announced that the state is implementing new strategies to encourage vaccinations.
“The days of vaccine scarcity are over,” he said. “Today, we are in a new phase of our vaccine administration plan – of meeting people where they are and getting them their shots.”
Physicians offices can now sign up to be COVID-19 vaccine providers. More than 1,000 offices have already signed up for this program. Pritzker said he hopes this encourages people who might be hesitant to get their shot by allowing a doctor they know and trust to administer it, or by saving people a trip if they’re already going to visit their doctor.
Any community member can also sign up to host a vaccine clinic in their area by visiting the Illinois Department of Public Health website and filling out an application.
Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.
If you have a story idea or news tip you want to share, we want to hear from you!