By Capitol News Illinois (including photo credit)
SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker said Thursday that Illinois will enter the “bridge” phase to full reopening on Friday, May 14. And barring any reversal of current trends, Phase 5, or full reopening, will begin on June 11.
He also announced that residents can now obtain COVID-19 vaccines from their physicians’ offices, rather than just designated vaccine sites, as public health officials continue to confront hesitancy within many communities to accept the vaccines.
Thursday’s announcement came as the state reached a new benchmark of having 55 percent of adults age 16 and over, and 80 percent of people age 65 and over, having received at least one dose of vaccine, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Meanwhile, the daily number of new cases, hospitalization rates and intensive care unit usage have all been falling or leveling off.
Under the bridge phase – a transition phase between the current Phase 4 mitigations and the virtually complete reopening of Phase 5 – certain capacity limits will be eased at various kinds of events. Restaurants, for example, will be allowed to increase from 25 to 30 percent of capacity, as long as people maintain six feet of distance from one another, while offices, personal care facilities and retail service counters can increase from 50 to 60 percent of capacity.
When the state reaches Phase 5, Pritzker said, virtually all mitigation restrictions will be lifted, although the state will still follow guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding wearing masks in large, crowded situations and maintaining safe social distancing.
As of Thursday, the seven-day rolling average of daily doses administered stood at 70,063, down from a peak of nearly 133,000 per day in mid-April. But with the supply of vaccines now large enough to provide vaccines to anyone who wants one, Pritzker said he hoped that making them available through physicians’ offices will make it more convenient for more people.
Still, there remain pockets of society that remain hesitant, whether that be for cultural, political or religious reasons, and the Pritzker administration is continuing its public relations campaign to reach out to those communities.