Pritzker issues rules as Illinois prepares for reopening

May 25, 2020 GMT

CHICAGO (AP) — Barbers and their customers will have to wear face masks. Restaurants will be able to serve diners outdoors only, with parties no larger than six people, spaced apart. And youth sports may hold practices and drills for 10 or fewer people, as long as the water fountains are shut off and other rules are followed.

With coronavirus-related restrictions set to be loosened this week in almost all of Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Sunday released his most detailed guidelines yet for businesses and organizations planning to reopen. The Democrat’s administration also issued a toolkit for businesses, with posters, signage and checklists to help businesses implement the new safety guidelines.

Pritzker’s stay-at-home order, issued in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is expected to be eased on May 29 for all of the state except Chicago, which is following its own timeline.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has said Chicago restaurants won’t be able to reopen with the rest of the state because the city isn’t achieving metrics in her plan for gradually loosening restrictions. Lightfoot is hopeful that can happen in early June.

Critics argue Pritzker’s restrictions have been too tough and too broadly applied, causing economic damage in parts of the state not as hard hit by the pandemic. Pritzker said Sunday that the reopening, known as “phase three” of his Restore Illinois plan, will bring about 700,000 people in Illinois back to the workplace.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,713 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, and 31 additional deaths. The new numbers bring the statewide total to 112,017 cases, including 4,884 deaths. Laboratories have tested 21,643 specimens in the last 24 hours, IDPH reported. The statewide rate of positive tests is 12% for the 7-day period between May 16 and May 22.

Most people with COVID-19 experience mild or moderate symptoms including fever and cough and recover within a few weeks. The virus can be fatal for some, especially older people and those with health conditions such as diabetes.