The state of Illinois and Chicago have entered Phase 5 and are fully reopen, with nearly all COVID restrictions lifted.
The reopening means crowds of all sizes are allowed in restaurants. It’s great news for still-struggling businesses as venues can return to full capacity without social distancing.
The state is still battling COVID, but the latest case numbers are low enough to reopen safely.
Gov. JB Pritzker said in a statement Thursday: “I invite all Illinoisans to feel the hope and joy of this moment while also recognizing that this pandemic is still very present for the world at large… As we take this next step forward, let’s do so with a renewed commitment to empathy, to community, and to making each day together count. You did it, Illinois.”
There are still some places that will ease into the loosened restrictions, like the North Side Music Box Theater. They plan to make changes over the next few weeks.
“A lot of them bought the ticket and are expecting social distancing, and reduced capacity, and mask enforcement and so we feel it would not be appropriate to pull the rug out from under them,” said Music Box General Manager Ryan Oestreich.
At Flossmoor Station restaurant and brewery, they’ve endured the ups and downs of the pandemic like thousands of other businesses. They plan to take a measured approach to full reopening. The outside patio will be at 100% capacity, but inside, the owner plans to keep things around 75% at least initially to make sure all customers are comfortable.
“We’re excited, but we’re cautiously excited,” owner Carolyn Armstrong said. “And I don’t want to just put a bunch of, cram a bunch of tables together. I want to kind of ease into it.”
“It’s been hard on everyone, and as a village we know that, so we’ve implemented steps to help our restaurants and to get them through this, so we’re real proud of everyone,” Flossmoor Village Trustee Jim Mitros said.
They are not the only ones. Keep in mind, everyone is still required to wear a mask on public transportation, in healthcare settings, schools, and more and they might be mandatory in other locations, too. Businesses can enforce their own rules on masks.
Cubs hosting ‘Opening Day 2.0’
Wrigley Field is about to become the most visible indicator that the city is fully reopened. The Cubs are calling it Opening Day 2.0.
They’re excited to welcome fans back to the ballpark at full capacity for the first time in September 2019.
The Cubs are kicking off a three-game homestand against their division rival, the St. Louis Cardinals.
As part of the move to Phase 5, the club has amended its health and safety protocols. Starting Friday, outdoor and indoor capacity restrictions will be lifted, physical distancing will no longer be required in the ballpark and pod-style seating will be eliminated.
To support full capacity, gates will open two hours before the first pitch.
Cubs season ticket holders will return to their season ticket location and the Budweiser Bleachers will return to general admission.
Meanwhile, Wrigleyville bars, will also be at full capacity. For Sluggers, it’s more than about the revenue.
“We will be back to what we’ve always known and what we know it’s like, and back to normal business and normal numbers, normal amounts of fun,” co-owner David Strauss said.
The ballpark’s touchless entry process and bag restrictions implemented at the start of the regular season will remain in place as well as mobile tickets and cashless concessions and retail.
Die-hard Cubs fan Bill Murray is expected to sing the 7th inning stretch. First pitch is at 1:20 p.m.
This article originally appeared on ABC7 Chicago.