400,000 Illinois residents set to return to work as state moves into Phase 4 on June 26; New guidelines will allow key leisure, recreation and business sectors to safely reopen
Governor JB Pritzker today released plans to safely continue reopening businesses and industries as Illinois moves into Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan. Working with public health officials and business representatives, guidelines were developed to keep workers and customers safe as the economy recovers. All four regions of the state are currently on track to move into Phase 4 on June 26 as the state continues to make significant progress in reducing new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, with the average 7-day statewide case positivity rate falling to just 2.5 percent as of June 20.
Phase 4 allows for the safe reopening or expansion of several key business segments – such as health and fitness, movies and theater, museums and zoos, as well as indoor dining at restaurants. Phase 4 also allows for expanded gathering sizes, increasing the limit from 10 in Phase 3, to 50 people or fewer. This expanded gathering limit extends to key activities like meetings, events, and funerals. For full guidance and other resources visit: Illinois.gov/businessguidelines.
“Over the last four months, Illinoisans have pulled together with the common mission of keeping each other safe. By staying home and practicing social distancing, the rate of new COVID-19 cases continues to drop and each region throughout the state is prepared to move to Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Science and data are the overarching guardrails for how Illinois will keep moving forward. By continuing to wear face coverings and following the guidance from health experts we can continue to safely reopen our economy and move forward together.
“The state of Illinois has made great progress in slowing the spread of COVID-19, largely because of the measures our administration enacted to protect residents and communities during this public health crisis,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “Our strategy to encourage social distancing and expand testing and contact tracing will enable Illinois communities to continue to take steps to reopen, to return to work and to resume daily activities.”
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) collaborated closely with local governments, businesses, and other stakeholders in the development of guidelines for Phase 4. In all, more than 150 businesses and regional partners were consulted on the guidelines developed with IDPH to ensure alignment with the State’s Restore Framework and the latest public health data.
“From the beginning, our administration has worked tirelessly to find solutions for businesses and communities impacted by this crisis so they can reopen safely,” said DCEO Acting Director, Michael Negron. “These new guidelines for Phase 4 represent our continued progress in overcoming the virus and will make way for hundreds of thousands more to return to work, and for more Illinoisans and Illinois businesses to come back into the economy.”
To ensure businesses can reopen safely, the state released a common set of standards expected of all employers, while also outlining industry-specific guidelines using a risk-based approach to support unique operational needs of businesses across the state. Industry guidance will help businesses and residents feel safe in returning to many of these new activities that have been closed for the past several months.
Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan creates safety guidelines for the following permitted activities and businesses to resume, with capacity rules in place:
Industries with revised guidelines in Phase 4:
Additionally, retail, service counters, offices, personal care (including salons, barber, nail salons), manufacturing and other industries allowed to reopen in Phase 3 will continue to operate at a reduced capacity.
To help businesses prepare to reopen and remain in compliance with new guidelines over the next two weeks, DCEO has released a new set of downloadable materials. Business toolkits are complete with signage, training checklists and other resources to help business owners and workers implement safety procedures and adhere to the latest capacity restrictions. Materials for businesses and operators pertaining to Phases 3 and 4 of the Restore Plan, can be found at Illinois.gov/businessguidelines.
During Phase 4, common public health standards remain in effect – including the use of face coverings and social distancing. Industry-specific guidelines may vary but are designed to help employers, workers and residents feel safe in transitioning to the next phase of reopening the state. All industries should continue to conduct regular cleanings, employee health screenings upon entry and mid-shift, and allow employees who can continue working from home to do so.
The state’s move to Phase 4 of the plan is expected to bring approximately 400,000 additional Illinoisans back to the workplace across all industries. While Phase 4 marks the return of 7 percent of the state’s workforce, it accounts for about $30 billion in annual GDP returned to operations and represents continuous progress towards fully reopening the state’s economy.
Phase 4 guidelines were designed by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) in coordination with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to ensure that as more activities and businesses resume operations, policies are in place to protect the health and safety of Illinois residents.
To help businesses that have been impacted or closed as a result of COVID-19, earlier this week Governor Pritzker announced an additional $85 million will be made available through two new grant programs designed to help alleviate the burden for businesses hit hardest by COVID-19. The new Business Interruption Grants Program (BIG) will make $60 million available for up to 3,500 businesses experiencing losses and/or unable to fully reopen until Phase 4 or 5. This program is earmarked specifically for restaurants which haven’t been permitted to allow outdoor dining, health and fitness centers, barbershops and salons, and other businesses located in disproportionately impacted areas (DIAs) of the state.
The second initiative, the Distressed Capital Program brings forward $25 million in Rebuild Illinois capital funds to help those businesses sustaining damages as a result of events related to civil unrest begin to restore and repair. Both programs will give priority to minority-owned businesses, or businesses located in DIAs. Together, these programs mark over $150 million in assistance made available since the onset of COVID-19 to help businesses with urgent needs. More information on these programs and other available grant opportunities can be found on DCEO’s website.
“Today’s announcement confirms that the state of Illinois is ready to safely reopen,” said Sam Toia, President and CEO, Illinois Restaurant Association. “As one of the most highly regulated industries when it comes to health and sanitation standards, restaurants are ready and equipped to safely welcome guests back for dine-in service, and with the world-class hospitality diners have missed. These guidelines will also greatly help restaurants begin to recover from this catastrophic business period. We commend Governor Pritzker and his team on a well-informed approach that keeps public health the priority while acknowledging restaurants’ expertise and giving our industry hope for a rebound.”
“We think the state’s Phase IV guidelines are a good step forward to getting the film production industry back to work and to where we were before the shut down,” said Mark Hogan, Business Manager/Secretary Treasurer of IATSE Local 476 Chicago Studio Mechanics. “We are making the safety of our crews priority number one, and we will work within these guidelines to ensure everyone on a production remains safe and healthy.”
“As a minority woman in a male dominated industry, the State’s minority owned business grant presents boundless opportunities for the continued growth and competitiveness of my company — all while we continue to navigate the impacts of this crisis,” said Edith De La Cruz, President of Antigua Construction. “State assistance will allow me to move from a small storefront operation to a new company headquarters with dedicated space for project management, estimating and a training center. I am grateful to the Governor and the State of Illinois for their continued guidance on reopening and for putting in place programs to help minority and women owned businesses succeed.”
“When we learned we were awarded a $10,000 DCEO Hospitality Emergency Grant, we were not only thankful, but relieved,” said Casa Mia Lounge and Restaurant owner Phil Hoffman. “The grant helped us get through May, and now new state guidance allows us to look forward to Phase 4 and fully reopening when it is safe to do so.”
“The advertising industry is anxious to begin filming commercial work again and progressing to phase 4 will allow many more productions to consider filming in Illinois safely,” said Lisa Masseur, AICP Midwest President and EP / Founder of Tessa Films. “We look forward to the influx in business and getting back to work safely with the local talent and crew in IL.”
“The Illinois State Alliance of YMCAs surveyed thousands of our members across the state and participated in countless peer learning discussions with Y’s across the country who have reopened safely. We are grateful to DCEO for allowing us the opportunity to share this feedback as they solicited input for reopening fitness centers and youth sports programs safely during Phase 4,” said Mike Wennekamp, President of the Illinois State Alliance of YMCAs and CEO of Two Rivers YMCA. “As the leader in making healthy lifestyles accessible to everyone in Illinois, regardless of income or background, our top priority is always the safety of every YMCA constituent, employee and guest.”
“No one works harder to promote health and fitness than the 58,000 Illinoisans of the health club and fitness studio industry,” said Steven Schwartz, CEO of Midtown Athletic Clubs and Chair of the Illinois Fitness Alliance. “Clubs and studios are excited to welcome their members back to a safe and clean environment to resume their fitness routines. A strong immune system is the best defense and nothing takes a bigger toll on your body than a sedentary lifestyle. Our industry is made up of small businesses and we’ve been taken to the brink. These guidelines are a first step for clubs and studios to get back on their feet. We appreciate The Governor’s team of DCEO and IDPH staff working with us to safely reopen. We are committed to making Illinois stronger!”
“Today’s announcement marks the first steps forward for our cultural sector to begin its gradual reopening process for museums, cinemas, and performing arts venues,” said Claire Rice, Executive Director, Arts Alliance Illinois. “We look forward to continuing to work with Illinois public health officials as Phase 4 progresses, to prioritize health and safety while exploring every possible opportunity to get our incredible creative community working and fully contributing to the innovation and inspiration economy across our state once again.”
“Very early during this pandemic, DCEO was ray of light during a time when no one knew what was happening, what was next,” said Johanna Torres, CEO of the Language Loop, LLC. “Thanks to DCEO’s guidance and immeasurable support, my small business was able to obtain funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program that we desperately needed to continue providing our language training services. We also appreciate the guidance provided to businesses like our so that we can make plans to reopen in a way that’s safe for our employees as well as customers.”