Daywatch: Chicago and Illinois fully reopen today. Here’s what you need to know.

·5 min read

Good morning, Chicago.

Wow, things are moving fast. I find it fantastic, spirit-lifting and, somehow, weirdly unsettling that we across this whole great city, region and state are going to be reopening phase five fully … (checks calendar) … today.

Even though I am fully vaccinated, I’m one of those folks who will still wear a mask in public at times. I probably won’t do crowds just yet. But it takes all kinds, which really is what makes humanity great, and I know lots of you can’t wait to get back to the full, pre-pandemic life.

Wherever you fall on the spectrum of masking, vaccinating and diving back into the deep end, we’re here to help. As we put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us, our focus is on giving you the information you need to recover, rebuild and return to normal.

You might want to bookmark (yes, people still do that) our reopening page to help guide your decisions.

Do you like museums? We’ve got updates.

Wondering about restaurant etiquette? Our Social Graces experts answer your questions.

Just want to eat and drink? (Raises hand.) The best dining staff in town is at your service.

And, of course, we will always give you the latest facts, figures and developments on public health and the local and national economies.

This is a milestone day. We’re grateful for it, grateful to be able to cover it for the Chicago Tribune, grateful for all your readership and subscriber support over the last 15 months.

Let’s enjoy it.

— Colin McMahon, editor-in-chief

Here’s more coronavirus news and other top stories you need to know to start your day.

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Reopening day: Illinois takes biggest step yet back to normalcy after more than a year of COVID-19 restrictions

Illinois and Chicago are scheduled to fully reopen today, 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, today’s reopening also will be the first time there are no capacity restrictions or social distancing mandates for businesses and personal gatherings.

Reopening anxiety: As Illinois celebrates the milestone start of phase five, some are uneasy about dropping pandemic protocols

Many pandemic-weary Illinois residents are celebrating the milestone start of phase five and a return to near-normalcy, planning a summer of travel and concerts and many of the communal events that had been on hiatus for more than a year.

Yet others express unease that COVID-19 safety measures might be dropping too quickly. Here’s why.

  • Heidi Stevens column: With Illinois reopening, I worry we’ve forgotten how to treat each other. But I’m finding hope ... on Twitter, of all places.

Offices are reopening, but business isn’t rebounding at dry cleaners: ‘It’s kind of a dying service’

As Chicago looks to put the COVID-19 pandemic behind it, residents are quickly returning to the businesses they used to frequent. But for many, the city’s dry cleaners are no longer part of the weekly routine.

The pandemic has diminished the use of professional and formal attire, leaving the dry cleaning business well below 2019 levels and causing cleaners to worry that COVID-19 has permanently altered the viability of their industry, which has struggled ever since no-iron shirts become popular. It’s a decline that hits particularly hard in the Korean American business community, whose members own the majority of the dry cleaners in the state.

Cubs expect Wrigley Field to be ‘rockin’ ’ as full-capacity crowds return this weekend

Beginning today against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Cubs can start playing in front of packed Wrigley crowds again when the ballpark officially returns to 100% capacity. Gates now open two hours before first pitch, an increase from 90 minutes at the start of the season, and ticket holders no longer must enter at specific gates or times. Here’s what else you need to know if you’re going to a game this weekend.

Bars in Illinois can finally return to full capacity, but return of crowds comes with a shot of apprehension

Bars across Chicago and Illinois will be able to pack customers in at full capacity starting today for the first time in 16 months. Some will do it. Others will build back up. Still others will remain closed a few days or weeks longer.

While relief seems universal among bar managers and owners that they can throw their doors open wide again, it comes with a dose of apprehension — and for a variety of reasons.