Illinois and Chicago fully reopened Friday, marking an emotional turning point in the pandemic for many who have endured loss and a lack of connection in public life.
Though the city and state have moved through different phases of curtailing and restoring activity since the initial stay-at-home order in March 2020, Friday’s reopening was the first time there were no capacity restrictions or social distancing mandates for businesses and personal gatherings. Here’s our phase 5 guide.
But not all COVID-19 health and safety measures are disappearing. Businesses are still advised to allow for social distancing and can require additional precautions. From salad bars to grocery store samples to museum reservation systems, here’s what to expect.
Illinois coronavirus graphs: The latest data on deaths, confirmed cases, tests and more
Illinois COVID-19 vaccine tracker: Here’s where the state stands
COVID-19 cases in Illinois by ZIP code: Search for your neighborhood
Here’s what’s happening with COVID-19 as Chicago and Illinois fully reopen:
22,917 vaccine doses administered, 298 new cases and 11 deaths reported
Illinois public health officials on Sunday reported 298 new and probable cases of COVID-19 and 11 additional deaths. That brings the state’s totals to 1,387,595 cases and 23,061 deaths.
There were 35,598 tests reported in the previous 24 hours and the seven-day statewide positivity rate as a percent of total test is 0.9%.
There were 22,917 doses of the vaccine administered Saturday and the seven-day rolling average of daily doses is 41,953. Officials said 69% of Illinois adults have received at least one vaccine dose and 52% of adults are fully vaccinated.
—Chicago Tribune staff
38,593 vaccine doses administered, 268 new cases and 15 deaths reported
Illinois public health officials on Saturday reported 268 new and probable cases of COVID-19 and 15 additional deaths. That brings the state’s totals to 1,387,297 cases and 23,050 deaths.
There were 51,470 tests reported in the previous 24 hours, and the seven-day statewide positivity rate is .9%.
There were 38,593 doses of the vaccine administered Friday, and the seven-day rolling average of daily doses is 45,606. Officials said 69% of Illinois adults have received at least one vaccine dose and 52% of adults are fully vaccinated.
—Chicago Tribune staff
Reopening day: At the brewery, the ballpark and elsewhere, it’s a mostly cautious move back to normal
Not a whole lot will immediately change at her Forest Park brewpub now that the state has removed its COVID-19 constrictions, Katherine Valleau said midday Friday.
For the first time, a sign went up outside Exit Strategy Brewing saying, “Vaxed? Mask Is Optional.” But her business will keep its limited indoor capacity for a while, and its staff will keep wearing masks, she said.
The milestone day’s more profound impact came in the heads of Valleau and her co-owner, husband Chris .
“There’s a weight that is currently lifted off,” said the former fifth grade teacher. “We kind of woke up this morning, and we’re like, ‘OK, so we’ve made it this far. And we’ve done all the things that we need to do and we have followed every rule to the letter and then some.’ So yeah, today’s a big deal.”
Across Chicagoland it was like that: maybe not so obviously different on the outside — even at Wrigley Field, where the Cubs were allowed to sell all the seats in the ballpark for the first time since the 2019 season — but with that light at tunnel’s end at least starting to shine brighter now.
Red more here. —Clare Proctor, Tatyana Turner, Stephanie Casanova and Steve Johnson
5:45 p.m.: Illinois announces plan to welcome full capacity at Memorial Stadium for 2021 season — and a bump in ticket sales
Illinois football announced Friday it will open the 2021 season at full capacity following a season without fans for Big Ten football games because of COVID-19 protocols.
The Illini also announced it will welcome capacity crowds at State Farm Center for basketball games after banning fans from regular season games and playing in front of limited fans in the postseason last season.
Read more here. —Shannon Ryan
5:15 p.m.: Lake County residents welcome lifting of COVID restrictions: ‘It’s kind of surreal, but it’s really good’
One thing 10-year-old Angela Hobbs, a visitor to Waukegan Beach on Friday, missed while living with the isolation of the coronavirus pandemic for the past 15 months was the joy of playing with friends like she used to.
As she dug in the sand, that discomfort was gone.
“I can see everyone’s face,” Angela said, as she spent the morning with her family at the beach. “I can finally play with people without wearing a mask or social distancing,” she added, just inches from others digging in the sand.
Angela and her family were among more than 100 people spending part of their day at the beach as others ate lunch at restaurants at full capacity, no longer concerned about keeping diners at least 6 feet apart.
Lake County residents expressed a variety of emotions Friday as they experienced their first day nearly restriction-free from COVID-19 regulations in almost 15 months as Illinois moved into phase five of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois Plan, with most places at full capacity.
Read more here. —Steve Sadin, Lake County News-Sun
2:30 p.m.: Anthony Rizzo’s decision not to get the COVID-19 vaccine draws some backlash, but the Chicago Cubs have his back: ‘He didn’t lie about it’
As Wrigley Field opened up Friday to 100% capacity for the first time since September 2019, the Chicago Cubs were answering questions about players who chose not to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Cubs are one of only eight MLB teams not to have reached the 85% threshold for fully vaccinated tier-one personnel. First baseman Anthony Rizzo told WMVP-AM 1000 host David Kaplan on Friday that he decided not to get vaccinated, becoming the first Cubs player to admit it publicly.
Rizzo, who quickly became a trending topic on Twitter, was unavailable for comment before Friday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals. A cancer survivor, Rizzo did not give a reason for his decision.
Read more here. —Paul Sullivan
12:15 p.m.: 42,083 vaccine doses administered, 401 new cases and 22 deaths reported
Illinois public health officials on Friday reported 401 new and probable cases of COVID-19 and 22 additional deaths. That brings the state’s totals to 1,387,029 cases and 23,035 deaths.
There were 39,661 tests reported in the previous 24 hours and the seven-day statewide positivity rate is 1.0%.
There were 42,083 doses of the vaccine administered Thursday and the seven-day rolling average of daily doses is 48,012. Officials said 69% of Illinois adults have received at least one vaccine dose and 52% of adults are fully vaccinated.
—Chicago Tribune staff
11:55 a.m.: Pritzker ‘taking some time off’ on reopening day
Gov. J.B. Pritzker, whose daily briefings were a staple of the early months of the pandemic and again during the fall surge, was notably absent from public appearances on reopening day.
Pritzker, who has been out of the public eye since doing a round of interviews with reporters June 3, “is taking some time off to be with his family,” spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said.
11:10 a.m.: CTA ends capacity limits on trains, buses as Chicago reopens
The CTA ended pandemic capacity limits on buses and trains as Chicago lifted many COVID-19 restrictions Friday.
Since mid-May, buses and trains had been operating at 50% capacity, which meant a limit of about 25 customers on a standard bus and 36 on a train car. Friday, the agency said those limits were no longer in effect.
Masks are still required on CTA and other forms of public transit. Free masks are available at every CTA train station and on every bus.
Read more here. —Sarah Freishtat
10:30 a.m.: Empty Bottle shows to movies, what does Friday’s big reopening mean for Chicago entertainment?
As Chicago and Illinois go to full reopening Friday, the big news for entertainment is capacity limits. They’re gone, inside and out, for theaters, concert halls and museums as well as sporting events and the like. Which means sudden, sold-out operas at Lyric and spontaneous Taylor Swift concerts at the United Center, correct?
Yes and no. Phase five makes those things theoretically possible, and social distancing rules for indoor events have also expired or turned into recommendations. (During the previous Bridge Phase, uncertainty about social distancing mandates kept comedy and music clubs from increasing their crowd sizes because patrons couldn’t be spread far enough apart.)
But from here, preexisting timetables and individual venue policies take over. Ravinia Festival and some of Chicago’s largest museums, for example, are only slowly increasing crowd sizes. Overall and generally, and providing news on the COVID-19 front remains positive, expect close to full capacities at entertainment and cultural destinations sometime mid-summer.
Read more here. —Doug George
8:55 a.m.: Lightfoot on reopening: ‘It’s a happy day in Chicago’
Mayor Lori Lightfoot made a round of media appearances early Friday to tout the city’s reopening.
Lightfoot said she’s working with businesses on the safety of public transportation and getting workers vaccinated as the city tries to get people back downtown.
”I think when people see that the downtown is fully reopened, and I’m seeing it now there’s an uptick in the number of people taking the trains now, traffic is definitely back up. I think there’s a real hunger to be back together,” she said during an appearance on WGN-TV. “Just as we’re seeing people really excited to be in restaurants, music venues, and just outdoors, we’re going to see people wanting to come back downtown to work.”
Lightfoot said Chicago is “well-poised to come back,” citing 32 corporate relocations in the last 12 months.
”Our economy’s roaring back,” Lightfoot said. Lightfoot made similar points on MSNBC as she celebrated the city’s reopening.
”We’re ready and we’re back. We’re lifting all restrictions as of today and our community is grateful,” Lightfoot said. “They’ve sacrificed a lot and been through a lot but it’s a happy day in Chicago.”
Later Friday morning, Lightfoot spoke outside Gibson’s Italia restaurant. “We are here to announce reopening day in Chicago,” she said to a whoop from the ground.
Lightfoot has faced a number of questions about the future for the city, especially its downtown, amid ongoing fallout from the pandemic and 2020′s civil unrest. Many businesses and economic corridors have yet to recover from the damage.
But as she celebrated the reopening Lightfoot tried to paint a rosy picture, pointing to the city’s vaccination rate and relatively low level of unemployment. Travel is starting to rebound and Divvy bikeshare ridership is up, she said. Reservations through Open Table were almost back to normal last weekend, Lightfoot said.
“Our city is back. We are poised to roar back, to provide more business, more opportunity and, importantly, more jobs to Chicagoans,” Lightfoot said.
The mayor also praised residents for following COVID-19 guidelines over the past year.
“You masked up. You got vaxxed up,” Lightfoot said. “And now, it’s time for you to get up, get out of the house this summer and fully and safely enjoy the events in the best city on the planet, our beloved city of Chicago.”
6:50 a.m.: Friday is last day for youth to apply for Chicago summer jobs program
Chicago’s program to provide work for young people ages 14 to 14 closes its application period Friday, according to the mayor’s office.
The One Summer Chicago applications, which include more than 21,000 jobs, close at 11:59 p.m., according to a release.
“The opportunities are paid and include jobs coding and tech, health care, media, photography, and more,” according to the release.
Anyone who wants to apply can visit the program’s website. —Chicago Tribune staff
6 a.m.: Reopening anxiety: As Illinois celebrates the milestone start of phase five, some are uneasy about dropping pandemic protocols
As Illinois is set to fully reopen Friday — loosening most capacity limits and dropping many pandemic protocols — Jeanne Egizio of west suburban St. Charles said she’s remaining cautious and will keep practicing some social distancing measures, even when they’re not required.
While the 59-year-old is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, she has asthma, which puts her at a greater risk of severe illness from the virus. She also had a serious case of H1N1 during the swine flu outbreak of 2009, an experience that left her more vigilant for her health and safety.
For now, Egizio plans to forgo large public events and continue masking indoors when among strangers, who may or may not be vaccinated.
“I’ll get some looks, don’t care,” she said. “Because at the end of the day, I don’t know. If you’re not wearing a mask, it creates a tiny bit of anxiety in me, because I don’t know whether you’re vaccinated.”
Read more here. —Angie Leventis Lourgos
6 a.m.: Chicago domestic violence killings, state helpline calls spike in pandemic, even as 911 calls drop. Black, Latino victims most at risk, new report shows.
Three weeks after Esmeralda De Luna got an order of protection against the father of her four children, he returned to their apartment in Villa Park and stabbed her to death while their children were in the home in May, according to records and her family.
“We tried to help her but we couldn’t save her,” said Leobardo Loza, De Luna’s brother.
De Luna was 24, and though she tried to leave her abusive partner several times, she returned to him time and again believing he would change, Loza said. The two had been together since she was 13.
The young mother’s death was part of a spike in domestic violence cases in communities of color in Illinois that coincided with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, advocates say. Even as calls to Chicago police regarding domestic violence decreased in 2020, the number of calls to a state hotline for people seeking help escaping domestic abuse increased.
At the same time, the number of domestic violence homicides in Chicago nearly doubled from 33 in 2019 to 62 in 2020, according to Chicago police data. While criminal justice experts caution a one-year increase can simply be an anomaly, they also often cite data on homicides as most indicative of overall crime trends, because the number of reported killings is largely unaffected by variables such as police staffing levels and the willingness of victims to pursue charges or make complaints.
A Tribune analysis of data from advocates and law enforcement shows what advocates believe is a pandemic-related upswing in domestic violence.
More than 80% of those killed were Black, with the second-largest group of those killed being Latino, according to a new report set to publish in late June by The Network, a coalition of organizations that provide gender-based violence services in Chicago.
Read more here. —Laura Rodríguez Presa and Joe Mahr
5 a.m.: With one of the highest vaccination rates in the state, Naperville residents ready to embrace new ‘normal’
When COVID-19 took hold more than a year ago, the restrictions put in place to stop its spread took a big toll on Denise Stephen’s lifestyle — particularly her ability to go to work or church.
When almost all of those constraints are lifted Friday, it will be a happy day, the Naperville resident said.
“I am very glad we are getting out of this, it is long overdue,” Stephen said Wednesday while outside Trader Joe’s, one of several store chains to have recently eased their mask-wearing policies.
With local coronavirus vaccination rates among the highest in the state and hospitalization numbers the lowest they’ve been in many months, Naperville would seem to be in a good place for a return to “normal.”
Read more here. —Rafael Guerrero, Naperville Sun