CHICAGO — Gov. JB Pritzker on Thursday extended the state’s stay at home order until May 30, but he eased restrictions to allow garden centers, nurseries, state parks and surgery centers to re-open.
The governor, who has hinted he would extend the order that was to expire on April 30, also announced a requirement for people over 2 years old to wear face coverings when in public and unable to social distance. And he required businesses deemed essential to provide protective face coverings for any worker who can’t be more than 6 feet away from another co-worker.
He also gave specific instructions allowing non-essential retail stores to have delivery and curbside pickup, and announced that surgery centers can resume some elective procedures.
Pritzker said he decided to push the order nearly to June because models show lifting it next week would erase Illinois’ progress in slowing the spread of the coronavirus and lead to a spike in cases and deaths. Scientists speaking at Pritzker’s Thursday media briefing said as many at 30,000 people would have died in Illinois by now without the stay at home order.
“The projections are clear: If we lifted the stay at home order tomorrow, we would see our deaths per day shoot into the thousands by the end of May,” Pritzker said. “And that would last well into the summer. Our hospitals would be full and very sick people would have nowhere to go.
“People who otherwise might have won their fight against COVID would die because we wouldn’t be able to help them through. No amount of political pressure would ever make me allow such a scenario for our state, our beloved state of Illinois.”
Pritzker’s announcement followed the release of the latest grim numbers in the state. In the past 24 hours, another 123 people died of COVID-19 complications. That raises the state’s toll to 1,688 people since coronavirus swept into Illinois.
There were also an additional 1,826 confirmed cases, raising the total number to 36,934, although many of those infected have since recovered.
Pritzker said that because Illinois has not yet reached its peak in cases, the stay at home order must be extended.
“We are in possibly the most difficult part of this journey,” he said. “I know how badly we all want our normal lives back. Believe me, if I could make that happen right now, I would. But this is the part where we have to dig in and we have to understand that the sacrifices we’ve made as a state to avoid a worst-case scenario are working. And we need to keep going a little while longer to finish the job.”
Here are the details of Pritzker’s new stay at home order, which goes into effect May 1:
- 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. 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.
- SURGERY CENTERS: The Illinois Department of Public Health will also be issuing guidance to surgi-centers and hospitals to allow for certain elective surgeries for non-life-threatening conditions, starting on May 1. Facilities will need to meet specific criteria, including proper PPE, ensuring enough overall space for COVID-19 patients remains available, and testing of elective surgery patients to ensure COVID-19 negative status.
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