Pritzker Announces New Bridge Phase Prior To Reopening

Illinois will have a new bridge phase prior to reaching full reopening as COVID-19 cases begin to drop and vaccination numbers go up. Governor J.B. Pritzker announced the new reopening phase yesterday that will increase capacity limits on both indoor and outdoor settings before moving to Phase Five. Movement between Phase Four, the Bridge Phase, and Phase Five will also be tied to vaccination rates.

Before Illinois residents can return to what Gov. J.B. Pritzker calls a “new normal,” he says 7-in-10 residents 65 and older must get a COVID-19 vaccination.

Pritzker appeared in Chicago on Thursday to announce the requirements the state must meet before he will remove his restrictions on businesses and crowd capacities.

“It’s time to cautiously move toward normalcy,” he said. “It’s imperative that we do so in a way that maintains all the progress we’ve made to date.”

Notably, Pritzker said 70% of the state’s 65 and older residents must get vaccinated.

“I’m optimistic about reaching that milestone because, as of this morning, that number is 58%,” he said.

In a release, his office said 28 days of low viral spread and other metrics must follow that vaccination threshold before he would begin to “turn the dial” toward his final “Phase 5” mitigations.

“Once 70% of residents 65 and older have been vaccinated and barring any reversals in our COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths for a 28-day monitoring period, the Bridge to Phase 5 will begin with increased capacity limits in both indoor and outdoor settings,” the release said.

Final mitigations would be removed once half of all residents over 16 years of age receive at least one shot.

Over the weekend, Republican pollster Frank Luntz held a focus group and found 42% of Republicans say they “probably or definitely will not get the shot,” compared with 17% of Democrats.

About 58% of the state’s 65 and older population is currently vaccinated, Pritzker said. A public health official from Brown University told the Chicago Tribune that vaccination demand is beginning to slow.

Pritzker added that masks will remain mandatory until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say it’s safe to leave them home.

The governor also announced he’ll open up the state’s COVID-19 vaccinations to anyone over 16 years of age starting on Aprril 12.

Illinois Radio Network