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Chicago Enters Phase 3 Of City Reopening Plan Wednesday — With Limitations

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the city will move to Phase 3 of its reopening plan on Wednesday.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot answers questions at a press conference on the updates about COVID-19 in Illinois on Friday, March 20, 2020 in Chicago.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

CHICAGO — The state of Illinois will enter Phase 3 of its reopening plan Friday — but Chicago is not far behind.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Thursday the city will move to Phase 3 of its reopening plan on Wednesday.

Restaurants and coffee shops will partially reopen. Non-essential retail stores, salons, barber shops, offices, child care, outdoor facilities like golf courses and more will reopen then, the mayor said. Social gatherings will be limited to 10 people or fewer.

City services will reopen slightly later on June 8.

“That means our kids can start using libraries and park facilities west of Lake Shore Drive,” Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot said residents can expect summer programs, youth activities, religious services, gyms and the lakefront and beaches to reopen in Phase 3 as well, but not on June 3.

“But we’ll have to wait to see how these initial first steps go,” she said.

As businesses reopen, Lightfoot urged employers to consider staggered start times to limit overcrowding on the CTA.

“Chicago was the only major city in America who did not cut service to transit systems during this crisis, and [CTA workers] deserve our thanks and credit,” she said. “However, we will still need our travelers to maintain social distancing as we move to Phase 3.”

The mayor asked employers to keep people at home if they can work from there, saying that’s the “safer option.”

Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago’s Department of Public Health commissioner, said the city’s COVID-19 positivity rate remains higher than other large cities at 16.3 percent — this means 16.3 percent of people tested have confirmed cases of COVID-19. To reopen, the city’s goal was 15 percent, which Arwady said we should hit by Wednesday.

Los Angeles is at an 8 percent positivity, Seattle is at 4 percent and New York City is at 6 percent, Arwady said.

“We have a lot of COVID still here,” Arwady said. “We will need people to continue to be cautious, continue to follow the guidance and continue to be safe.”

Arwady urged people to continue to practice 6-foot distancing, wear face coverings and stay home if sick to avoid any uptick in cases here.

Businesses can view industry-specific guidelines for reopening now and the city said it would release guidelines for sporting events, religious services, outdoor performances, summer programs and youth activities, the lakefront and museums when they are allowed to reopen.

Officials also warned the state could regress to Phase 2 if there is a significant surge here.

“Under no circumstances should our move to Phase 3 be confused with this crisis being over, because it’s not,” Lightfoot said. “COVID-19 is still very much part of our present. I can’t emphasize this enough.

“And as we reopen, please understand that we’re doing so with the full knowledge that we cannot totally eliminate risk of this virus. The best we can do, and really the best you can do, is continue following the public health guidance around social distancing, hand sanitizing and, please, wearing a mask in public.”

You can read the guidelines for restaurants, bars, salons and outdoor recreation here.

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