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Chicago Moves Into Coronavirus Phase 3 Today. Here’s What To Expect

Big changes have come: More businesses will be able to open their doors, offices can reopen and people will be able to gather in groups of 10 or fewer.

Two pedestrians wear masks in the Streeterville neighborhood on Monday, April 27, 2020. Starting May 1, all Illinois residents are required to wear face coverings in public.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — The city is starting to reopen Wednesday as it moves into Phase 3 of its plan to battle coronavirus.

That means big changes are coming: More businesses will be able to open their doors, offices can reopen and people will be able to gather in groups of 10 or fewer.

Masks are still required, though, and officials have warned the virus is not gone and still poses a real threat to people in Chicago.

“It means that we are not done,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health. “This progress is fragile at best.”

People should still wear masks or other face coverings, keep 6 feet of social distance, wash their hands frequently and stay home if sick, Arwady said.

The doctor has also advised people who have protested in marches or gathered in other large groups to self-quarantine for 14 days to avoid potentially spreading COVID-19.

Here’s what you need to know:

What’s Open Today

  • Child care centers and family child care
  • Non-lakefront parks (but contact sports are not allowed)
  • Office-based jobs, professional services and real estate services
  • Hotels/lodging
  • Outdoor attractions (like non-lakefront golf courses)
  • Boating, but with a limit of 10 people (the Playpen remains closed)
  • Non-essential retail stores
  • Personal services like hair and nail salons, barber shops and tattoo parlors
  • Restaurants and coffee shops (outdoor dining only)
  • Manufacturing, construction and warehousing
  • Hospitals, dentists, community mental health centers and Federally Qualified Health Centers
  • Public transit, regional transit, taxis and rideshare
  • Gyms (for outdoor, small classes and indoor, one-on-one personal training only)

The lakefront and beaches remain closed — but they could return later in Phase 3, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has said. That’s also the case for museums and outdoor performances (though they’ll have capacity limits).

Large venues will remain closed, as will schools, playgrounds, bars and lounges.

Other Changes

New Rules

Coronavirus Cases

• There have been 122,848 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Illinois as of Tuesday. Many of those patients have recovered since testing positive.

• At least 5,525 people have died in Illinois as a result of the virus.

• There have been 46,739 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Chicago and at least 2,148 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

• Testing Sites: The state and city shut down the COVID-19 testing sites they run due to unrest.

• Briefings: Gov. JB Pritzker will no longer do daily coronavirus briefings.

• Arrests: Despite the mayor’s claim that police have enforced social distancing equally across Chicago, data shows almost all arrests and citations for congregating have been issued on the city’s South and West sides.

• 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.

The city is also looking for an organization to head up a 600-person contact tracing team.

• Reopening Businesses: The state has released its guidelines for how businesses can safely reopen during Phase 3. The city released rules of its own, too.

Here’s what the city wants bars, restaurants, salons and stores to do before they can reopen.

• Child Care: The state is allowing child care centers to reopen during Phase 3, though with capacity limits. Day camps will be allowed to reopen, too, though they also face restrictions.

• Mental Health: Lightfoot urged Chicagoans to embrace their feelings and find ways to care for themselves, saying she’s allowed herself to cry during the pandemic.

• “We’re Not Them”: Lightfoot said Chicago won’t rush to reopen like Florida and Georgia and will instead focus on saving lives.

• 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.

 Masks: Everyone is 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 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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