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Coronavirus In Chicago: Businesses Will Soon Get Rules For Reopening Safely Amid Pandemic

Workplaces and stores will have limits on capacity and people will need to wear masks, wash their hands frequently and stay 6 feet apart, officials have said.

Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Businesses that are set to reopen next week will soon get guidance from the state on how they can do that safely, Gov. JB Pritzker said.

Every part of Illinois is currently on track to progress to Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan May 29. With the shift to Phase 3 comes a host of changes: non-essential retail stores and offices will be able to reopen, people can get haircuts in salons again and gatherings of 10 people or fewer will be allowed again.

But every business — and person — will still be asked to take steps to prevent further spread of coronavirus. Workplaces and stores will have limits on capacity and people will need to wear masks, wash their hands frequently and stay 6 feet apart, officials have said.

RELATED: Outdoor Dining, Camping, Tattoos, Haircuts And Picnics With Friends: Here’s What’s Allowed Starting May 29

With the shift to Phase 3 looming, the state plans to send out formal, industry-specific guidance to businesses in “coming days,” Pritzker said Wednesday.

Pritzker said the state has worked with industry leaders and workers to determine what sort of restrictions are needed in each type of business. His administration has also talked with public health experts every day to figure out how to get people back to work and students in school “without jeopardizing the health and safety of Illinoisans,” he said.

The governor did give some guidance Wednesday: He announced bars and restaurants will now be able to have outdoor seating in Phase 3, but only with social distancing and masks.

And boating, camping and outdoor activities will be allowed — so long as you keep it to 10 people or fewer and wear masks when unable to practice social distancing, Pritzker said.

Though the state is seeing progress in its battle against coronavirus — in fact, Pritzker suggested earlier this week Illinois might be coming down from its peak — getting rid of health and safety rules now would put people at risk, the governor said.

“The virus has not gone away. Other states that have thrown out restrictions and decided to just go without regulation are seeing rising cases and beginning to see rising hospitalizations,” Pritzker said. “Here in Illinois we have followed the science, and we’re succeeding. But we can’t let up now.

“We’ve come too far and we’ve made so much progress because we’ve kept social distance, [worn masks and washed hands]. We must persevere.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has a press conference at 1 p.m. Pritzker has his daily coronavirus briefing at 2:30 p.m.

Coronavirus Cases

• There have been 100,418 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Illinois as of Tuesday afternoon. Many of those patients have recovered since testing positive.

• At least 4,525 people have died in Illinois as a result of the virus.

• There have been 38,783 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Chicago and at least 1,788 people have died.

If You Need Help

• Sick? Broke? Want To Help? Here’s A Massive List Of Coronavirus Resources In Chicago

What’s Happening In Chicago

Churches: At least three Chicago churches were cited for holding in-person services during the stay at home order.

Patio Season: Restaurants and bars can offer outdoor seating starting May 29 as officials try to save the industry.

Phase 3: Here’s what to expect when the state moves into Phase 3 starting May 29.

• Salons: Barber shops and salons are preparing to reopen with new safety measures.

 Small Gyms: Workout reservations and temperature checks could be on the docket as small gym owners get ready to safely reopen.

• Contact Tracing: Pritzker is ramping up the tracing program that intends to isolate every person known to be in recent contact with someone who has newly confirmed case.

• Masks: Two local designers have switched from high fashion to protective masks as part of the city’s effort to provide 1 million reusable cloth masks to Chicagoans.

• Domestic Violence: Demand is spiking at domestic violence shelters, but they’re losing beds for social distancing.

• Undercounting Deaths: The number of COVID-19 deaths in Illinois is likely higher than what’s been reported, said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

• Food Delivery: Services like Grubhub and DoorDash will soon have to tell customers just how much they’re charging restaurants for delivering food. The city is pushing for more transparency from the services as restaurants struggle during the pandemic.

• Unemployment: 1099 and gig workers can now file claims for unemployment.

 Masks: Everyone is now required to wear a face covering or mask when unable to social distance. And yes, stores can require you to wear a face covering if you want to shop.

Here’s what you need to know about the requirement.

• Testing: Officials are now saying anyone with coronavirus symptoms can get tested in Illinois. Before, they’d advised most people to simply stay at home and assume they had coronavirus.

Here’s where you can get tested in Chicago.


Coronavirus can be deadly, but the vast majority of cases have been mild. Those most at risk from the virus are people who are elderly or who have underlying health conditions.

Symptoms of coronavirus can appear two to 14 days after a person has been exposed to the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control. People with no symptoms may have the virus and spread it to others.

The virus spreads between people through coughing and sneezing, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The most common symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills and shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of taste and/or smell

People have also experienced body aches, nasal congestion and runny nose, according to Harvard Medical School.

If you or someone else has difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, become confused, cannot be roused or develop a bluish face or lips, get immediate medical attention, according to the CDC.

How To Protect Yourself

Here’s what you can actually do to prevent getting ill:

  • The CDC and other officials have said people should wash their hands often, including before, during and after eating; after using the bathroom; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
    The CDC has a guide here for how to properly wash your hands. Remember: Wash with soap and water, scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • If you can’t wash your hands with soap and water, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
  • Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth, with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces you touch frequently, like cellphones and light switches. Here are tips from the CDC.
  • Stay home when you’re sick and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • If you have to sneeze or cough with a tissue, throw it out immediately after using it, according to the CDC.

What To Do If You Think You’re Sick

Even if you’re not showing symptoms, the Chicago Department of Public Health recommends people coming from high-risk countries (here’s a CDC list) self-quarantine for 14 days after returning home.

If you do have symptoms of coronavirus, contact your primary doctor or a health care facility before going in. Explain your symptoms and tell them if you’ve come into close contact with anyone with coronavirus or traveled to an area where COVID-19 is widespread (here’s a CDC list) within the last 14 days, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

From there, the experts will work with your local health department to determine what to do and if you need to be tested for coronavirus, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

And, of course, if you think you’re sick with coronavirus, don’t risk exposing other people to the virus. Anyone who feels unwell has been ordered to stay home or risk getting a $500 fine.

Those with questions and concerns about coronavirus can call the Illinois Department of Public Health at 800-889-3931.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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