Today, June 26th, marks the first day of Phase 4 of ‘Restore Illinois’. Several new changes come with Phase 4, such as larger gatherings, indoor dining, and additional business opening. Despite the new guidelines, the novel corona virus has not gone away. Cases continue to surge in several states, with some states having to take a step back. This post will go over Phase 4 guidelines, and how COVID-19 is still a danger.
Well, many people had doubts about Illinois getting to Phase 4 so quickly based on the rules put forth by Governor Pritzkr. But we are here, and unlike some states, we set and met federal guidelines before proceeding with reopening. Illinois’ patience and sacrifice of small freedoms has led us closer to normalcy. However, until an effective treatment, vaccine, or a complete drop off in cases occurs, we will sit in Phase 4.
The More Things Change
While waiting for a vaccine, treatment, or zero new cases, Illinoisans can get back to enjoying several activities. In Phase 3, people couldn’t gather in groups larger than 10. Now, people can gather in groups of up to 50. Similarly, restaurants now have the clearance for indoor dining, with larger party sizes as well. Before you could have a party of 5, but now you can have a party of 10. However, indoor restaurants will need to adhere to 25% capacity. Additionally, schooling may be back in session this fall, assuming we do not revert back to Phase 3.
The More They Stay The Same
Although several guidelines have changed form phase to phase, certain ones remain. Face coverings are still required in grocery stores, retail shops, and other public places where social distancing is not possible. For restaurants, it would seem you must enter with a face covering, but you may remove it while eating or drinking. Additionally, larger parties and gatherings are allowed but social distancing is still being enforced. For example, restaurants must keep tables at least 6 feet apart still. Understandably, many people are tired of all the rules but at the same time, it’s better than moving backwards.
While Illinois has progressed into Phase 4, several states are on the verge of moving backwards. Unfortunately, the states of Texas, Florida, California, and Arizona are not doing well by any means. Texas’ Governor, Greg Abbot, has officially put their reopening on pause, although it did not mean any places closed. Instead, no new reopening would happen until after Texas cases go down. In Arizona, over 23% of tests conducted in the past 7 days came back positive, nearly tripling the national average. So, clearly the country is struggling to keep up with the virus, but how is Illinois faring?
Well, Illinois could find itself in a similar situation, as there has been a uptick in new cases in our state. On June 25th, new case numbers in Illinois had reached a one day total over 800, with 41 deaths. Yes, that is a large number of new cases, so how are we proceeding to Phase 4? Despite the surge, ‘Restore Illinois’ guidelines state that we may proceed forward so long as our hospitals can take it. In other words, as long as new cases do not overwhelm hospitals, we should remain in Phase 4. On the other hand, Governor Pritzker would not shy away from sending us back in Phase 3 or 2 if it came down to it.