By BEN ORNER
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker announced Thursday he is extending Illinois’ stay-at-home order through May 30 with certain modifications taking effect May 1, including opening up state parks, expanding essential businesses and requiring masks in public.
“I know how badly we all want our normal lives back. Believe me, if I could make that happen right now I would. But this is the part where we have to dig in,” Pritzker said at his daily COVID-19 briefing in Chicago. “And we have to understand that the sacrifices that we’ve made as a state to avoid a worst-case scenario are working, and we need to keep going a little while longer to finish the job.”
Effective May 1, the stay-at-home order will feature the following modifications:
- State parks will reopen in phases under a plan from the state Department of Natural Resources. Fishing and boating will be limited to groups of two people. Golf courses will be allowed to operate only under “strict” safety and social distancing guidelines from the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
- Essential businesses will include animal grooming services, greenhouses, garden centers and nurseries, allowing them to reopen. These businesses must follow social distancing and require employees and customers to wear face coverings.
- Retail stores that are not already essential businesses and operations may reopen to fulfill telephone and online orders through delivery and curbside pick-up.
- Face coverings will be required for everyone in indoor public places and in any other public place where they cannot maintain six-foot social distancing. The requirement applies to everyone over the age of two who is medically able to wear a mask.
- Essential businesses and manufacturers will be required to provide face-coverings to all employees who cannot maintain six-foot social distancing. Other new requirements will include occupancy limits and precautions such as staggering shifts and operating only “essential” manufacturing lines.
- Schools can allow the pick-up of necessary supplies and student belongings. College dormitory move-outs will have to follow social distancing and other public health guidelines.
- Surgical centers and hospitals will be allowed to perform some elective surgeries for non-life-threatening conditions. They will need to meet certain criteria set by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
“These changes are what the data says that we can offer the people of Illinois without risking so much viral transmission that our hospitals will potentially become overrun,” Pritzker said. “That said, if we start to see crowds and people violating the order or breaking the rules, I will need to bring back these restrictions. I’m hopeful that we will not need to do that.”
IDPH announced 1,826 new cases of COVID-19 in Illinois on Thursday, as well as 123 new deaths. The state has now seen 36,934 cases, including 1,688 deaths. Health workers completed 8,970 tests in the past 24 hours.
For the first time in this pandemic, Pritzker released one of the projection models that his administration is using to make decisions. The model, developed by researchers at multiple Illinois universities and private groups, projects the state to see a peak or plateau of daily deaths between late April and early May.
If the stay-at-home order were lifted this week, Pritzker said, a second wave of COVID-19 would send deaths per day into the thousands by the end of May.