CHICAGO — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker has extended the state’s stay-at-home order during his daily COVID-19 pandemic news briefing Thursday afternoon.
This round will come with some modifications to relax some restrictions, said Illinois Capitol Bureau Chief Mark Maxwell. The modified orders go into effect on May 1 and extend through the end of the month.
The state of Illinois is projected to see a peak or plateau of deaths per day between late April and early May. The governor’s office says that if the orders were lifted now there would be a second wave in May that would exceed hospital capacity.
Pritzker already canceled in-person classes for all Illinois students for the rest of the academic year.
Governor Pritzker believes staying home and social distancing have saved lives. He is extending that stay at home order until the end of May but there are some measures that will be relaxed.
Beginning May 1st retail stores that can fulfill orders online or via the telephone and have outside pick up and delivery can reopen. Businesses such as greenhouses, garden center, and plant nurseries will also be allowed to open. A key change here is that Illinois hospitals can begin performing elective surgeries.
“Because we are bending the curve surges centers and hospitals will be able to begin scheduling surgeries that had been delayed so we could maximize capacity for COVID patients. Facilities will need to meet specific criteria including proper PPE, ensuring enough overall bed and ICU availability and testing of elective surgery patients to ensure COVID 19 negative status,” said Gov. Pritzker.
Illinois Congressman Mike Bost had just told our Washington DC bureau how critical getting those hospitals working again is.
“We’ve got hospitals that are sitting empty because there’s no outbreak,” said Bost. “Unfortunately, in the state of Illinois they try to do everything like Chicago. I do not have an area like Chicago. It was late before my counties even got a single case.”
Businesses and manufacturers that do reopen must provide masks for all employees. All employees must maintain six feet of social distancing. Employee occupancy will be limited, and the governor wants staggered shifts.
State parks will have a phased reopening with social distancing extending to boating and fishing with two people only.
Schools and educational facilities can only reopen for students to get supplies or to let students move out of dormitories.
Gov. Pritzker’s office released this set of modified extended orders. They are expected to ease some restrictions on businesses:
- OUTDOOR RECREATION: State parks will begin a phased re-opening under guidance from the Department of Natural Resources. Fishing and boating in groups of no more than two people will be permitted. A list of parks that will be open on May 1 and additional guidelines can be found on the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website HERE . Golf will be permitted under strict safety guidelines provided by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and when ensuring that social distancing is followed.
- NEW ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES: Greenhouses, garden centers and nurseries may re-open as essential businesses. These stores must follow social distancing requirements and must require that employees and customers wear a face covering. Animal grooming services may also re-open.
- NON-ESSENTIAL RETAIL: Retail stores not designated as non-essential businesses and operations may re-open to fulfill telephone and online orders through pick-up outside the store and delivery.
- FACE COVERINGS: Beginning on May 1, individuals will be required to wear a face-covering or a mask when in a public place where they can’t maintain a six-foot social distance. Face-coverings will be required in public indoor spaces, such as stores. This new requirement applies to all individuals over the age of two who are able to medically tolerate a face-covering or a mask.
- ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES AND MANUFACTURING: Essential businesses and manufacturers will be required to provide face-coverings to all employees who are not able to maintain six-feet of social distancing, as well as follow new requirements that maximize social distancing and prioritize the well-being of employees and customers. This will include occupancy limits for essential businesses and precautions such as staggering shifts and operating only essential lines for manufacturers.
- SCHOOLS: Educational institutions may allow and establish procedures for pick-up of necessary supplies or student belongings. Dormitory move-outs must follow public health guidelines, including social distancing.