Chicago’s Reopening Phases: What do They Mean?

By Emma McVady

The five-phase reopening plan for Illinois was announced by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in May, and Illinois has been following the reopening plan ever since. The plan, called “Restore Illinois,” uses phases to safely reopen the state. After a while, the phases may blend together; it’s easy to lose track of what phase we’re in. This guide talks all about what the phases are and what they mean.

Phase 1 “Rapid Spread”

Phase one occurred during the rapid increase in the bulk of case numbers, and all regions of Illinois have experienced this phase.

In this initial stage, only essential businesses were allowed to remain open, and a strict stay at home order was in place. Masks, sanitation, and isolation were highly stressed at this time.

Phase 2 “Flattening”

Phase two hit Illinois on May 1, when the modification of the original stay at home order was made. This occurred following varying flattening of Illinois’ case curve.

In this stage, limited non-essential businesses were allowed to reopen, but only for curbside pickup and delivery. Masks were implemented by the government for added safety as things reopened. Some outdoor recreational areas were also allowed to open.

Phase 3 “Recovery”

Phase three began on May 29, when infection rates and COVID-19 patients were declining. All regions of Illinois passed through this phase, Chicago being the last.

This stage allowed businesses such as salons, offices, retail, and more to open once again. In-classroom instruction and childcare were also allowed to resume during this phase. Outdoor fun reopened with guidelines and safety measure requirements.

Face coverings were required during this stage, and gatherings of above 10 were prohibited. A social distance of 6 feet was implemented in social settings as well.

Phase 4 “Revitalization”

Revitalization started in June for Illinois. The stage occurred following the continuous declines in cases, hospitalizations, and maintenance of surge capacity.

Larger gatherings have started to emerge, as gatherings of up to 50 people are now allowed. Restaurants and bars began opening their indoor seating, as well as outdoor patio spots. This has brought life back into the windy city following long closures.

Entertainment spots, such as movie theaters, are to open with capacity limitations and seating regulations. Hair salons and businesses of that nature are open, as well as gyms. These places will follow strict regulations regarding capacity and sanitation.

Masks and a social distance of 6 feet are expected, and groups of more than 50 people are strictly prohibited.

Phase 5 “Illinois Restored”

It may feel like a different era, but if all goes well, life can return to normal once again. This phase will be brought on by a vaccine, treatment, or elimination of cases over a significant period of time.

In stage five, the business and the social world are free to reopen and function fully. The economy will see improvements, and there will be no limitation on groups. Festivals, conventions, and lectures may resume. Schools may return to their usual ways of functioning.

Although things will be back to normal, this instance may create a new normal for Illinois, and the nation. New safety procedures and precautions may be implemented from here on out to prevent this from occurring again.