After more than a year of capacity limits, social distancing guidelines and business closures, Chicago is set to move to Phase 5 of its reopening plan—a.k.a. a full reopening—on Friday, June 11 along with the rest of Illinois, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced today. That means city life will return to something pretty close to normal, with zero capacity restrictions for businesses and large-scale events.
Lightfoot announced the news in a Thursday morning online Q&A with Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, citing the city's most recent COVID-19 caseload statistics: a 2 percent positivity rate and a seven-day rolling average of 135 new cases per day, the lowest numbers since the beginning of the pandemic.
"I think we’re ready to move to Phase Five with the state next Friday, June 11th. What do you think?" Lightfoot asked Arwady, who responded in agreement.
"The numbers are looking so good right now," Arwady replied.
Initially, the mayor said she intended to fully reopen Chicago by July 4 on the heels of announcing the city's Open Chicago plan in late April. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, on the other hand, announced last month that Illinois planned to fully reopen by June 11. The accelerated reopening means that Chicago will join major cities like New York City and Philadelphia, which have lifted nearly all restrictions that were put in place to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
It's important to remember that a "fully reopened" Chicago won't be 100 percent back to the pre-pandemic normal just yet. Some safety measures, like mandatory masking on public transit and in healthcare spaces, remain in place, and many businesses may still require patrons to wear masks in their buildings and continue to limit capacity. We'll likely have more details about the remaining safety measures in the coming weeks, ahead of the return of large-scale outdoor events like Lollapalooza and the Windy City Smokeout.
Lightfoot and Arwady also encouraged Chicagoans to keep getting vaccinated, which will help push positivity rates down even further and discourage the spread of new virus variants. Even so, this news is something to celebrate: Pat yourself on the back for masking up and getting your vaccine—and enjoy it!