Governor Outlines Bridge Phase for Reopening

Phase 5 of Gov. Pritzker’s reopening plan won’t be coming this week. However, after weeks of pressure from people across Illinois, including members of the business community and employees wanting to get back to work, Gov. Pritzker on March 18 finally outlined a “Bridge Phase” based on vaccination rates.

According to the Governor’s plan, this newly created Bridge Phase, which has been coined “Phase 4.5,” will kick in when: 70 percent of people ages 65 and older have received at least one vaccination dose; ICU bed availability remains at 20 percent or greater; and there is a non-increasing trend in COVID-19 hospital admissions and mortality rate. Metrics would be monitored for 28 days before the state can move forward. Phase 5 wouldn’t be allowed to begin until half of all Illinois residents ages 16 and older have received one vaccine dose, and the other COVID-19 metrics remain steady.

During the Bridge Phase, restaurants could move to 30 percent indoor capacity and 50 percent outdoor capacity. Offices, retail, and health and fitness centers could move to 50 percent capacity. Conference and convention venues would be allowed to move to the lesser of 60 percent capacity or 1,000 people.  Two hundred and fifty people would be allowed for indoor social events and 500 people for outdoor social events. Theaters would be allowed to operate at 60 percent capacity.

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While the Governor claims these new mitigation measures are based on science and data, he has not provided that specific data he is using, nor has he empowered local health officials to adapt the standards to best meet the needs of their communities.

Senate Republicans have continued to advocate for improved transparency to the Administration’s COVID-19 response efforts, and for the Governor to engage the members of the General Assembly in the decision-making process. To date, the Governor has issued 76 executive orders and continues the streak of not engaging the Legislature in decision-making processes.

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