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Photograph: Neal O'Bryan

Illinois recommends cancellation of gatherings of more than 250 people due to coronavirus

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Chicago just got a big update about how city life will function in the coming weeks: During a press conference on Thursday night, Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a recommendation that all community events with 250 or more attendees be postponed or cancelled until May 1 to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

That recommendation is in line with similar steps taken by other states across the country—including California, Ohio and Indiana—and functions more like an official request than a mandate. Though state officials won't formally ban or monitor gatherings, organizers are strongly encouraged to call off their events if 250 or more are expected to attend. Events with more than 1,000 attendees, on the other hand, are banned effective immediately. Pritzker has also asked all Illinois sports venues to cancel games or play without spectators until May 1.

What do those recommendations mean for event cancellations throughout the city in the future? Though we can likely expect most large gatherings (think festivals, conferences, conventions and similarly sized events) to follow government instructions, it's unclear how other high capacity spaces, like theaters, music venues and museums, will take cues from the recommendations. In the hour after Pritzker's announcement, the Goodman Theatre and Symphony Center announced temporary closures. And in New York City, a state ban on gatherings larger than 500 people issued Thursday led to all Broadway shows halting production until April 12, plus the temporary closure of The Metropolitan Museum and other cultural institutions.

Keep up to date on the latest developments in Chicago with our ongoing list of event cancellations and venue closures.

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