The Bridge Phase Begins In Illinois

Illinois is entering another COVID-19 reopening phase that was added by Governor J.B. Pritzker in March.

Capacity limits on a wide range of businesses and activities will be slightly loosened Friday as the state enters the next to last phase of the governor’s pandemic reopening plan.

Pritzker announced last week that the state would enter the Bridge Phase of his plan, a final step before all restrictions are lifted, as the spread of COVID-19 has slowed and a large percentage of Illinoisans had received at least one dose of a vaccine.

Reaching the next phase means 70% of Illinois residents 65 and older are vaccinated in addition to maintaining 20% ICU bed availability and holding positive cases, hospitalizations and mortality rates steady for a 28-day period.

While Illinois met the vaccination rate threshold in April, a spike in the state’s hospitalization and case rates halted an earlier move to the Bridge Phase.

Capacity limits for health clubs, offices, personal care businesses, and conferences have increased from 50% to 60%.

As for bars and restaurants, the indoor capacity limits increase from 25% to 30% for standing areas, and outdoor seating increases to 50% capacity.

During an appearance at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee on Thursday, Pritzker said the Chicago Cubs and White Sox will be opening special seating areas at Wrigley and Guaranteed Rate fields to accommodate fully vaccinated fans.

“The next home games they will create a section in each of those ballparks for those who have been vaccinated,” said Pritzker. “It will allow higher capacity and the teams can fill all of those seats.”

At Busch Stadium in St. Louis, seating capacity will double May 21 to around 30,000, just in time for the Cubs series.

Now that young people between the ages of 12 and 15 can get vaccinated, the governor also announced that Six Flags Great America will be giving away 50,000 free tickets to their parks to newly vaccinated residents. The value of the tickets is $4 million.

“We will also be sending thousands of tickets to local health departments in the Six Flags region to help encourage vaccinations in the ways that best meet the needs of the community,” said Pritzker.

Pritzker said if the state coronavirus metrics continue to trend downward after entering the Bridge Phase, the state is eyeing a full reopening on June 11.

On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced fully vaccinated people could stop wearing masks in most indoor and outdoor settings.