CHICAGO – Gov. J.B. Pritzker, on Monday, released plans to reopen more businesses as the state moves into Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan at the end of the week.
Working with public health officials and business representatives, guidelines were developed to keep workers and customers safe as the economy recovers. All four regions of the state are currently on track to move into Phase 4 on June 26 as the state continues to make significant progress in reducing new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, with the average seven-day statewide case positivity rate falling to just 2.5% as of June 20.
Phase 4 allows for the safe reopening or expansion of several key business segments – such as health and fitness, movies and theater, museums and zoos, as well as indoor dining at restaurants. Phase 4 also allows for expanded gathering sizes, increasing the limit from 10 in Phase 3, to 50 people or fewer. This expanded gathering limit extends to key activities like meetings, events, and funerals. For full guidance and other resources visit Illinois.gov/businessguidelines.
“Over the last four months, Illinoisans have pulled together with the common mission of keeping each other safe. By staying home and practicing social distancing, the rate of new COVID-19 cases continues to drop and each region throughout the state is prepared to move to Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan,” Pritzker said. “Science and data are the overarching guardrails for how Illinois will keep moving forward. By continuing to wear face coverings and following the guidance from health experts we can continue to safely reopen our economy and move forward together.”
Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Nogozi Ezike said the state “has made great progress” in slowing the spread of COVID-19, progress she said can be attributed to the measures the governor’s administration enacted to protect residents and communities during this public health crisis,”
“Our strategy to encourage social distancing and expand testing and contact tracing will enable Illinois communities to continue to take steps to reopen, to return to work and to resume daily activities,” she said
Officials say the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity have collaborated closely with local governments, businesses, and other stakeholders in the development of guidelines for Phase 4. In all, more than 150 businesses and regional partners were consulted on the guidelines developed with IDPH to ensure alignment with the state’s Restore Framework and the latest public health data.
“From the beginning, our administration has worked tirelessly to find solutions for businesses and communities impacted by this crisis so they can reopen safely,” DCEO Acting Director Michael Negron said. “These new guidelines for Phase 4 represent our continued progress in overcoming the virus and will make way for hundreds of thousands more to return to work, and for more Illinoisans and Illinois businesses to come back into the economy.
To ensure businesses can reopen safely, the state released a common set of standards expected of all employers, while also outlining industry-specific guidelines using a risk-based approach to support unique operational needs of businesses across the state. Industry guidance will help businesses and residents feel safe in returning to many of these new activities that have been closed for the past several months.
Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan creates safety guidelines for the following permitted activities and businesses to resume, with capacity rules in place:
• Meetings and events: Venues and meeting spaces can resume with the lesser of up to 50 people or 50% of overall room capacity. 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: Revised guidelines to allow select indoor recreation facilities (e.g., bowling alleys, skating rinks), as well as clubhouses to reopen. Indoor recreation to operate at lesser of 50 customers OR 50% of facility capacity with outdoor recreation allowing group sizes of up to 50, and permitting multiple groups given facilities have space to appropriately social distance and can limit interaction between groups; concessions permitted with restrictions.
• Indoor Dining: Indoor dining can reopen with groups of 10 or less, with tables spaced 6-feet apart in seated areas and with standing areas at no more than 25% of capacity.
• Museums: Can reopen with no more than 25% occupancy, and with interactive exhibits and rides closed; 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 permitted with restrictions.
• Zoos: Can reopen with no more than 25% occupancy, and with interactive exhibits, indoor exhibits, and rides closed; guided tours should be limited to 50 people or fewer per group; zoos should have a plan to limit congregation via advance ticket sales and timed ticketing; concessions permitted with restrictions.
• Cinema and Theatre: Indoor seated theaters, cinemas, and performing arts centers to allow admission of the lesser of up to 50 guests OR 50% of overall theater or performance space capacity (applies to each screening room); outdoor capacity limited to 20% of overall theater or performance space capacity; concessions permitted with restrictions.
• Outdoor seated spectator events: Outdoor spectator sports can resume with no more than 20% of seating capacity; concessions permitted with restrictions.
Film production: Allow no more than 50% of sound stage or filming location capacity; crowd scenes should be limited to 50 people or fewer.
Industries with revised guidelines in Phase 4:
• Youth and Recreational Sports: Revised guidelines allow competitive gameplay and tournaments; youth and recreational sports venues can operate at 50% of facility capacity, 20% seating capacity for spectators, and group sizes up to 50 with multiple groups permitted during practice and competitive games given venues have space to appropriately social distance and can limit interaction between groups; concessions permitted with restrictions.
• Health and fitness centers: Revised guidelines allow gyms to open at 50% capacity and allow group fitness classes of up to 50 people with new safety guidelines for indoors, with multiple groups permitted given facilities have space to appropriately social distance and can limit interaction between groups.
• Day camps: Water-based activities permitted in accordance with IDPH guidelines; no more than 50% of facility capacity with group size of no more than 15 participants in a group, unless participants changing weekly.
Additionally, retail, service counters, offices, personal care (including salons, barber, nail salons), manufacturing and other industries allowed to reopen in Phase 3 will continue to operate at a reduced capacity.
To help businesses prepare to reopen and remain in compliance with new guidelines over the next two weeks, DCEO has released a new set of downloadable materials. Business toolkits are complete with signage, training checklists and other resources to help business owners and workers implement safety procedures and adhere to the latest capacity restrictions. Materials for businesses and operators pertaining to Phases 3 and 4 of the Restore Plan, can be found at Illinois.gov/businessguidelines.
During Phase 4, common public health standards remain in effect – including the use of face coverings and social distancing. Industry-specific guidelines may vary but are designed to help employers, workers and residents feel safe in transitioning to the next phase of reopening the state. All industries should continue to conduct regular cleanings, employee health screenings upon entry and mid-shift, and allow employees who can continue working from home to do so.
The state’s move to Phase 4 of the plan is expected to bring approximately 400,000 additional Illinoisans back to the workplace across all industries. While Phase 4 marks the return of 7% of the state’s workforce, it accounts for about $30 billion in annual GDP returned to operations and represents continuous progress towards fully reopening the state’s economy.
Phase 4 guidelines were designed by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) in coordination with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to ensure that as more activities and businesses resume operations, policies are in place to protect the health and safety of Illinois residents.
To help businesses that have been impacted or closed as a result of COVID-19, earlier this week Governor Pritzker announced an additional $85 million will be made available through two new grant programs designed to help alleviate the burden for businesses hit hardest by COVID-19.
The new Business Interruption Grants Program (BIG) will make $60 million available for up to 3,500 businesses experiencing losses and/or unable to fully reopen until Phase 4 or 5. This program is earmarked specifically for restaurants which haven’t been permitted to allow outdoor dining, health and fitness centers, barbershops and salons, and other businesses located in disproportionately impacted areas (DIAs) of the state.
The second initiative, the Distressed Capital Program brings forward $25 million in Rebuild Illinois capital funds to help those businesses sustaining damages as a result of events related to civil unrest begin to restore and repair. Both programs will give priority to minority-owned businesses, or businesses located in DIAs. Together, these programs mark over $150 million in assistance made available since the onset of COVID-19 to help businesses with urgent needs. More information on these programs and other available grant opportunities can be found on DCEO’s website.
“Today’s announcement confirms that the state of Illinois is ready to safely reopen,” Illinois Restaurant Association President Sam Toia said. “As one of the most highly regulated industries when it comes to health and sanitation standards, restaurants are ready and equipped to safely welcome guests back for dine-in service, and with the world-class hospitality diners have missed. These guidelines will also greatly help restaurants begin to recover from this catastrophic business period. We commend Governor Pritzker and his team on a well-informed approach that keeps public health the priority while acknowledging restaurants’ expertise and giving our industry hope for a rebound.”