With all four regions of the state as defined under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s phased-in reopening plan slated to advance to the next stage Friday, the state rolled out detailed guidance Sunday for what precautions restaurants and bars need to have in place to be able to serve customers outdoors, how manufacturers and some offices can resume operations with restrictions and how barbers can offer those badly needed haircuts.
The industry-specific guidance the state released Sunday for the sectors of the state’s economy that will see loosened restrictions in the third phase of the governor’s plan provides a glimpse at a gradual return to normalcy after more than two months under a stay-at-home order meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
But operations at the businesses that will be allowed to reopen later this week will look markedly different from they did pre-pandemic: Hair and nail salons, barbershops and spas will only be able to offer services where both the employee and customer wear face coverings over their nose and mouth.
When our state moves into Phase 3 of our Restore Illinois plan, we will reactivate key segments of our economy and enable as many as 700,000 Illinoisans to return to work over the coming weeks.— Governor JB Pritzker (@GovPritzker) May 24, 2020
Here's how we're going to do that safely: pic.twitter.com/HwjXNU47Ax
Pritzker’s announcement of the phase three rules at a Sunday morning news conference in Springfield came hours after the Illinois General Assembly adjourned its four-day special pandemic-driven session, where lawmakers passed a maintenance-level spending plan for the budget year that begins July 1. The budget holds much state spending flat from the current year but does provide increases to some areas most affected by the pandemic.
The Democratic governor on Sunday called on Republicans “to step up here instead of simply complaining about the need that the state has” for additional federal aid, in response to their criticisms of the budget’s reliance on borrowing from the Federal Reserve and uncertain direct federal aid from Washington to close a deficit driven by pandemic-decimated revenues.
Pritzker on Sunday also called it a “complete abdication of responsibility” for lawmakers not to take up legislation with an enforcement mechanism for businesses that defy his stay-at-home order, after he withdrew last week a controversial emergency rule that would have made businesses that flout the rules subject to a misdemeanor.
“They were unwilling to vote on anything like that or they didn’t get it done and so we’re going to have to look at other mechanisms,” Pritzker said. “But the fact is I think the legislature failed in this regard.”
In the next phase of reopening, retailers can allow customers at 50% of their normal capacity or five customers per 1,000 feet of retail space, and “service counter” businesses such as dry cleaners, electronic and shoe repair shops and car washes can operate with signage displayed at the entrance notifying customers of social distancing and facial covering requirements and cleaning procedures.
Illinois Retail Merchants’ Association President and CEO Rob Karr on Sunday acknowledged that the rules the state is rolling out “present some challenges operationally."
Pritzker last week announced that restaurants would be able to offer outdoor dining service in the third phase of the plan, which has faced pushback across the state for being too strict, since it was announced earlier this month.
At outdoor tables spaced 6 feet apart, Illinois residents will be able to eat and imbibe outside their homes again during the next phase of the reopening plan, served by employees who will be instructed to wear masks over their nose and mouth, check their temperatures before clocking in and wash their hands for 20 seconds, every 30 minutes. Restaurant operators are being asked to do away with refilling customer beverages and instead utilize new glasses, and serve food using delivery trays to “minimize hand contact.”
Illinois Municipal League Executive Director Brad Cole stood with Pritzker at his Sunday news conference where he announced the new industry guidance and called it a “good first step,” but noted that many municipal officials are “hopeful that additional steps like these today can be taken again soon.”
Local governments have largely been tasked with enforcing Pritzker’s sweeping stay-at-home order that took effect March 21, and municipal officials will continue to give the governor input to “expand and improve upon the recovery plan,” Cole said.
“We will do that with a spirit of cooperation and understanding that many local officials have been placed in a no-win position in the middle of either defying their constituents or disregarding state orders,” Cole said. “The ongoing challenge to all of us is to work together and the mutual commitment to that process is appreciated.”
Under Pritzker’s five-phase “Restore Illinois” plan to gradually reopen Illinois’ economy as it meets a range of health metrics, the four regions the plan divides the state into are all on track to enter the next phase on Friday.
The industry guidance was released as state officials Sunday announced 2,508 new known cases of COVID-19 and 67 deaths, pushing the statewide known case count to 110,304 since the pandemic began earlier this year. The statewide death toll now stands at 4,856.
Also seeing changes in phase three of the reopening plan are offices including law, accounting and architectural firms that can reopen with 50% of their normal office capacity and physical distancing and a face covering requirement for employees. Manufacturers will be able to resume operations with reconfigured work stations and more physical distance between employees.
Day camps and some noncontact youth sports practices can resume if they allow for physical distancing between participants.
One-on-one fitness training can resume with restrictions, larger fitness classes will be allowed but only outdoors with physical spacing between people, and some outdoor recreation such as driving ranges and outdoor shooting ranges can reopen but with capacity and face covering requirements.