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Field Museum lobby
Photograph: Courtesy the Field Museum

Pritzker orders Illinois museums, theaters and casinos to temporarily close

Plus, retail and personal services will operate a limited capacity.

Emma Krupp
Written by
Emma Krupp

As COVID-19 cases spike across the state, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced that beginning Friday, November 20, Illinois will roll back to Tier 3 of the Restore Illinois Mitigation Plan—a move that temporarily closes museums and movie theaters, implements new capacity limits on retail stores and encourages remote working, among other restrictions.

Under the Tier 3 mitigations, indoor recreation centers like movie theaters, performing art centers, museums, casinos and amusement centers must temporarily close. Retail operations, including grocery stores and pharmacies, will be required to implement a 25 percent capacity limit—a decrease from the current limit of 50 percent—as will personal care services such as hair salons. Fitness centers must require reservations, ban group fitness classes and close locker room areas. And though there are limited opportunities for enforcement, the regulations also include new recommendations for remote working and avoiding private indoor gatherings. Some institutions, like the Shedd Aquarium, had already taken steps to shutter for the winter just ahead of the announcement on Tuesday afternoon.

Though the Tier 3 mitigations are the strictest the state has implemented since the spring, they still fall short of a stay-at-home order, which Pritzker said he is hopeful to avoid over the coming weeks. In the early spring, for instance, most retailers, fitness centers, hair salons and barbershops could not remain open at all. People will also be permitted to gather outdoors—albeit in limited capacity—for sports, recreation and other activities. 

To keep the state from sliding back into a full stay-at-home order, Pritzker said in a press conference that it's crucial Illinoisans take steps in their personal lives to stem the spread of the virus, a sentiment that echoes last week's recommendation for state residents to stay home as much as possible. "Tier 3 boils down to this: If you don't need to do it, don't," Pritzker said. In particular, that means not gathering with people outside of the household, especially ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

"The more we can avoid gatherings now, especially indoors with the people we don't already live with, the more likely we are to be able to celebrate the December holidays with less risk for our loved ones and ourselves," Pritzker said. "... Our single best weapon in the weeks ahead is all of you."

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