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Illinois Is Reopening, But Chicago Isn't Because Of Coronavirus Cases

Barbershops and other businesses will remain closed this week in Chicago, while many stores reopen Friday elsewhere in Illinois.
Charles Rex Arbogast
Barbershops and other businesses will remain closed this week in Chicago, while many stores reopen Friday elsewhere in Illinois.

Illinois is joining many of its neighboring Midwest states in reopening some retail shops, restaurants, salons and other businesses Friday.

But Chicagoans will have to wait until the middle of next week to get a tattoo, haircut or manicure, or eat on a restaurant patio as Mayor Lori Lightfoot is delaying the limited business reopening until Wednesday.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said every region of the state has now met the criteria to move into phase three of his five-phased reopening plan called Restore Illinois. That includes the percentage of positive coronavirus tests falling and remaining below 20%, a falling or flat rate of new COVID-19 patients being admitted to hospitals, and enough available medical, surgical and intensive care unit hospital beds and ventilators to handle a possible surge in COVID-19 cases.

Phase three of reopening in Illinois is a bit more limited than the plans in many other states. Illinoisans should not throw out their face coverings and masks — those are still required in public.

Restaurants can reopen for outdoor dining, but tables must be spaced at least 6 feet apart, and groups sitting together are limited to no more than six people.

Hair and nail salons, barbershops, tattoo parlors and other providers of personal care services will be limited to those that can be performed with both the customer and employee wearing coverings over their noses and mouths. Massages and other body treatments will be limited to 30 minutes.

Nonessential retailers can reopen but must limit the number of customers at a time to five per 1,000 square feet of retail space, which is half the normal capacity.

"Our goal is and always has been to keep people safe from this coronavirus while we restore more of our normal activities," Pritzker said Thursday at his daily media briefing.

But he warned residents not to become complacent because he worries about a possible resurgence in COVID-19 cases.

"It's possible that if we have a surge, a spike, and we need to quell that spike, we might potentially have to move backward in the phases," Pritzker said. "That's not anything any of us want to do."

Meanwhile, Chicago is still considered a place of concern for COVID-19 outbreaks. Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, said last week the number of cases in the city has plateaued, and not fallen as in some other parts of the country, and needs continued monitoring.

The mayor is delaying the city's limited reopening until the middle of next week, and some restrictions will be tighter than the state's when this reopening occurs. Retail stores, salons and other businesses will need to limit the number of customers to 25% of their normal capacity.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

David Schaper is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, based in Chicago, primarily covering transportation and infrastructure, as well as breaking news in Chicago and the Midwest.