SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WMBD) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expanding on what can reopen in the next phase of his Restore Illinois plan.
Wednesday, the governor said that restaurants and bars can open for outdoor seating when the state enters Phase 3 of the plan on May 29. The state will require tables at outdoor seating to be six feet apart. Gatherings of 10 people or less will be permitted.
“We are by no means out of the woods, but directionally, things are getting better. And because of these advances, we are able to make some modifications to allow more activity during Phase 3 of our reopening plan Restore Illinois,” Pritzker said. “Our mission has always been to get people back to work, get students back to school and return to as much normalcy as possible without jeopardizing the health and safety of Illinoisans.”
Municipalities are encouraged to help restaurants and bars expand their outdoor seating options.
“With the right restrictions, tables — six feet apart and away from the sidewalks — masks and distancing measures for staff and other precautions, the experts believe that these services can open at a risk comparable to other outdoor activities,” Pritzker said during the briefing.
The governor said that making reservations and closing streets to provide more room to accommodate seating may become the new normal.
Additionally, all stores will be allowed to reopen for in-person shopping as long as they provide social distancing safety measures. Foursomes will be allowed for golf, indoor and outdoor tennis facilities will be allowed to open, and all state parks will reopen, with concessions sales allowed too.
This comes after the Illinois State Police announced Tuesday night that no arrests will be made if businesses violate the stay-at-home order, but also urged them to follow the rule.
Last Friday, Pritzker issued an emergency rule that would fine businesses up to $2,500 for violating his executive order. However, before the governor’s daily press conference on Wednesday, Pritzker’s team withdrew the controversial emergency rule. The administration said it would withdraw the rule to avoid a clash between legislative and executive branches, according to sources within the Joint Action Committee, who met today to challenge the rule.
Bars and restaurants were previously slated to only be allowed to re-open to seated customers once the state hit Phase 4 of Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan.
“Summer offers us an opportunity, if owners take precautions,” Pritzker said.
Also set to reopen on May 29 once the state hits Phase 3 are other “non-essential businesses,” including nail salons, beauty salons, spas, tattoo parlors, hair braiders, and barbershops.
The statewide positivity rate of coronavirus cases remains steady at 14%, Illinois Department of Public Health officials said Wednesday.
IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said there is “good news” to report when it comes to the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19; There are currently 3,914 hospitalized with the disease, including 1,005 in intensive care and 554 on ventilators.
“This is the lowest number since we were capturing these numbers that we have had for COVID patients in the hospital,” Ezike said.
Watch the full press conference below.