Gov. JB Pritzker on Thursday extended his stay-at-home order for another month, although state parks, golf courses, and more businesses will be able to open with certain restrictions. Face-coverings will also be required in public indoor spaces.
Pritzker’s earlier order was set to expire April 30. A new one will go into effect May 1.
The governor’s office released new modeling Thursday which it says predicts a peak or plateau of deaths per day between late April and early May. If the stay-at-home order were lifted this week, the governor says that model anticipates a second wave of the outbreak in Illinois starting in May, which would claim tens of thousands of lives and greatly exceed the state’s hospital capacity.
“Make no mistake, Illinois has saved lives. By staying home and social distancing, we have kept our infection and death rates for the months of March and April thousands below the rates projected had we not implemented these mitigation strategies,” Pritzker said in a statement. “I know how badly we all want our normal lives back. But this is the part where we have to dig in and understand that the sacrifices 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.”
The new order, taking effect May 1, includes several changes:
- Surgicenters and hospitals will be allowed to do certain elective surgeries for non-life-threatening conditions, starting May 1. Facilities will need to meet specific criteria, including proper PPE and testing of patients to ensure COVID-19 negative status.
- State parks will begin a phased re-opening
- Golf will be permitted under strict safety guidelines
- Greenhouses, garden centers and nurseries may re-open as essential businesses
- Animal grooming services may re-open
- Retail stores not designated as non-essential businesses and operations may re-open to fulfill telephone and online orders through pick-up outside the store and delivery
Also starting May 1, everyone will be required to wear a face-covering or a mask when in a public place where they can’t maintain a 6-foot social distance. Face-coverings will be required in public indoor spaces, such as stores.
State Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, the top Republican in the Senate, said he was pleased to see restrictions eased for state parks and small businesses.
"However, one area not included in this extension was a regional, phased-in reopening of our state," Brady said in a statement. "Downstate communities, while following the proper social-distancing guidelines, are not seeing the same number of cases, but they're suffering just the same economically."
Brady said Pritzker must "continue to monitor the data with the hope that we can ease restrictions before May 30 if it is safe to do so."
"We have to realize COVID-19 is our new normal, and it is time to address how all businesses, essential or otherwise, operate safely,” Brady said.
State Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, echoed calls for a more regional approach.
"We're trying to persuade the governor to have more structured reopenings, and phasing in parts of Illinois that don't show the signs and numbers that maybe north, in the Chicagoland and collar counties, they do," Brady said.