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Illinois officially moves to Phase 3

Guidelines are in place for businesses, outdoor activities, and houses of worship

As St. Clair County sees a spike at the beginning of Phase 3, St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern urges residents to continue to follow safety protocols and to ignore temptation to disregard the guidelines. (Photo Courtesy St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency Broadcast.)

Today marks the official first day of Phase 3 for all four regions in Illinois. With guidelines and toolkits available for many types of businesses, some residents are rejoicing the move towards normalcy, while others are still fearful that reopening may increase cases of COVID-19.

“I’m so excited. Retail gets to open up, jobs are coming back, but I want to remind you- we need to go forward, not backward. Everybody, make sure you’ve got your face coverings, you’re washing hands, and keeping socially distanced. Do the right thing for everybody, and we’ll get to Phase 4 soon enough,” said Governor JB Pritzker.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced 1,622 new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 86 additional deaths. In the past 24 hours, laboratories have processed 25,513 tests for a total of 855,479 tests.

Edgar County is now reporting a case of COVID-19, making the virus present in 101 of Illinois’ 102 counties. The state is reporting a total of 117,455 cases, including 5,270 deaths.

In St. Clair County, cases have increased. Out of 6,823 tested residents, there are 1,198 positive cases, including 31 new cases in males and females from their teens to their 80s. Included in that total is the death of 94 county residents.

5,560 tests have been negative, and 65 tests are pending. Additionally, 756 of the residents with COVID-19 have completed the IDPH required 14 day quarantine period.

County Board Chairman Mark Kern said hospitals are reporting a bit of a spike, and acknowledged that as restrictions loosen and the weather warms up, the temptation is there to disregard safety practices. “Let’s all stick together, wash our hands, and social distance. Let’s not let down our guard, because letting down our guard means we won’t move to Phase 4 as fast as we want to. St. Clair County, let’s lead. Let’s show how things are meant to be done.”

Phase 3 Guidelines

Work places such as offices and manufacturers: Anyone able to continue to work from home is encouraged to do so, and those returning to work should maintain a six foot distance from coworkers when possible. Employers are encouraged to implement temperature testing, discourage shared items or work spaces, and discontinue the use of water fountains except for touchless water bottle refill stations. Vending machines and other frequently touched surfaces should be disinfected according to CDC guidelines, and materials should be provided to employees to allow for face covering, hand washing and sanitizing, and work station disinfecting. Each area’s capacity, including break areas, depends on the ability of employees to maintain a six foot distance. Staggered shifts or breaks are encouraged, as is keeping groups of employees on similar shift or break schedules to minimize exposure.

Retail: Employees and employers of retail spaces, including department stores, shopping malls, small businesses, and essential retailers like grocery stores and pharmacies should follow guidance similar to office and manufacturing guidelines. Shoppers will be limited to 50 percent capacity or five patrons per every 1,000 square feet of store space. Customers over the age of two should wear face coverings when medically tolerated, and should refrain from bringing in reusable bags until further notice.

Service Counters: Stores providing assorted services for dropped off goods, such as dry cleaners, electronics repair shops, shoe repair shops, car washes, and more should follow above guidelines, as well as removing materials from waiting rooms to avoid customer cross contamination, and customers are encouraged to wait off premises for service completion wherever possible. Capacity is limited to 50 percent or five customers per 1,000 square feet of space.

Health and Fitness Centers: Phase 3 services are limited to 1:1 training and outdoor fitness classes with 10 participants or fewer. There should be 10 feet of distance between members during workouts, and reservations are required. Contact exercises are not allowed, and only one person may use equipment at any given time, unless they are members of the same household. Members should wear face coverings when not working out and should not change clothes on the premises.

Personal Care Services: Hair salons, barber shops, nail salons, spas, tattoo parlors and more can resume business. Face coverings should be worn by employees and customers, there must be six feet of space between customers/work stations, any massages or body treatments should be 30 minutes or less, and walk-ins are not allowed.

Restaurants and Bars: In addition to curbside pickup and delivery, outdoor dining is now allowed for parties of six or fewer with tables six feet apart, and seating allowing for social distances. O’Fallon, Lebanon, and Belleville have given permission for street closures to allow for local restaurants and bars to have room for outdoor service, and Gov. Pritzker has indicated that he will be signing a bill into law that will allow for pickup of pre-mixed drinks. Customers should make reservations and what off premises when practical.

Outdoor Recreation: Activities such as paintball, visiting driving ranges and amusement parks, and more may now resume. In addition to the guidelines for employees, groups are limited to 10 people or fewer, and there must be 30 feet of distance between groups. There are updated guidelines allowing for indoor and outdoor tennis, as well as increased capacity for boating or fishing to 10 people or fewer dependent upon the size of the boat.

Youth Sports: Youth sports may now resume in limited capacity. Teams are limited to 10 or fewer participants per adult, and capacity for indoor sports is limited to 50 percent. Teams should remain static with no participants added after a season begins, members of the same household should be assigned to the same team, and there must be designated distances between groups, between groups and spectators, and between spectators. There should not be post-activity events such as snacks, and parents should wait for or drop off their participants in designated. Participants should also use their own equipment and touch facility equipment as little as possible, as well as maintain six feet of distance between themselves and other particpants’ belongings. Face coverings should be worn when participants are within six feet of each other.

Day Camps: Day camps including recreational, religious, and educational day camps may resume in limited capacity. Water-based activities are not permitted, physical activity can only occur outdoors, water fountains should be made unavailable, and groups must be 10 people or fewer, allowing for six feet of distance between participants and employees. There should be 30 feet of distance between groups, and groups should remain static to prevent exposure. Camps are limited to 50 percent capacity. Participants should wear face-coverings except for when eating or playing outdoors, and sanitize their hands frequently.

In addition, the Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles will reopen on June 1, and through July 31, only customers with expired licenses or vehicle tags and new drivers will be serviced through July 31. As of May 29, there will be a 90 day extension on all expired vehicle stickers, drivers licenses, and IDs.

There are also new guidelines for houses of worship that include guidelines for remote services, drive in services, and and shortened in person services with social guidance restrictions.

The full guidelines and toolkits for businesses can be found here. Once regions move forward to Phase 3, there will be at least 28 days before Phase 4 can begin, and there can be no increases in COVID hospital admissions during that time, though there can be stability in the rates. Gov. Pritzker said the earliest any region could move to Phase 4 would be June 26.

Contact individual businesses before attempting to visit or utilize services, and maintain social distances and good hygiene practices, including utilizing face coverings when possible to prevent the spread of the virus.