Pritzker unveils Restore Illinois- a phased reopening plan

Restore Illinois was presented by Gov. Pritzker at his May 5 presser. (Photo courtesy Gov. Pritzker)

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By Angela Simmons, Weekly Editor

Governor JB Pritzker released a five phase plan to reopen the state called Restore Illinois, which detailed each of the phases and named regions across the state that could reopen in different stages. The news comes on the day when Illinois hit the highest single day fatality number to date.

“I know that we all have a passionate desire to return to the sense of normalcy that we felt before the world knew of COVID-19. Here’s the truth, and I don’t like it anymore than you do, until we have a vaccine, or an effective treatment, or enough widespread immunity that new cases fail to materialize, the option of returning to normalcy doesn’t exist. That means we have to figure out how to live with COVID-19 until it can be vanquished, and to do so in a way that best supports our residents health, healthcare systems, and saves the most lives. With that very much in mind, I want to introduce you to our framework for moving forward,” he said before unveiling his plan.

He continued “Restore Illinois is a public health plan to safely reintroduce the parts of our lives that have been put on hold. Science and data are our overarching guardrails, and we also listened to organizations, school leaders, businesses & elected officials from across the state. This data-driven plan follows the best epidemiological recommendations, but it’s also inspired by people across our state who carry real passion to make sure that their communities can begin thriving again even in the face of this pandemic. This is also a regional plan. We’re one Illinois, but we are also one Illinois made up of of 60,000 square miles – and reality on the ground looks different across our state. We’re looking at the state as four regions, each of which can move through phases at different times.”

Restore Illinois Phases

“Restore Illinois operates with five phases, beginning with a state of ‘Rapid Spread’ when we imposed our original Stay at Home order, and ending with a fully reopened economy in a post-COVID-19 world. In Phase 1 – or where we were from early March to April 30 – we moved to minimum essential operations to bend the curve, curtail the rapid spread of the virus and give us time to expand hospital capacity. We’ve been through this phase once, and no one wants to go backward,” said Pritzker.

He said “We entered Phase 2 on May 1st with our modified Stay at Home order. Many of our mitigations are similar to Phase 1, but adjustments were made to offer flexibility where public health experts told us we could.”

“Regions that meet certain thresholds over the next few weeks will be able to move to Phase 3. Non-essential manufacturing and other businesses can reopen, including barbershops and salons. State parks can open. All public gatherings of 10 people or fewer can now take place,” said Pritzker.

“In Phase 4, a region would need to see continued declines in its positivity rate and hospitalizations and maintain surge capacity, and if so, restaurants, bars, spas, cinemas, theaters, retail and health & fitness clubs can open with new capacity limits and IDPH safety guidance. This phase is called ‘Revitalization’ because it’s when everyone in Illinois will be rebuilding what school and work will look like for a while, until we reach the other side of this pandemic. ,” he said.

Gov. Pritzker said “The only way we can cross into Phase 5 – Illinois Restored, with all sectors of the economy running with completely normal operations – is with a vaccine, or a widely available and highly effective treatment, or with the elimination of any new cases over a sustained period.”

He also warned that plans could move backwards. “Just as public health indicators will tell us when to move forward, at any time, they could also signal that we need to move backward. If the virus begins to attack more people or the health care systems are heading toward becoming overwhelmed, swift action will need to be taken.”

The Regions

Four regions as identified by IDPH. Pritzker said the regions were set “many years ago,” and could reopen in different stages as the data allows. (Photo Courtsey Gov. Pritzker)