Illinois Heads to Phase 5: Mask Mandates Across City, State Relaxed

The CDC, state of Illinois and city of Chicago are recommending that fully vaccinated people can take off their masks in most settings, including indoors and outdoors. Businesses may still require patrons to wear masks at their own discretion.

Some national retailers, like Target, are also allowing vaccinated guests to go mask-less, asking that those without masks are doing so on the honor system in lieu of checking vaccination cards upon entry.

On May 14, Illinois started the Bridge Phase of the Restore Illinois plan, the final phase before fully reopening in Phase 5. In the Bridge Phase, capacity limits at most indoor and outdoor settings increase to 60%. In the cases of amusement parks, zoos and museums, the increase is from 25% to 60%.

The Bridge Phase is contingent upon each area maintaining low levels of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths for 28 days.

Masks are still required in schools, hospitals and other health care facilities like nursing homes and hospice, on public transportation and in correctional facilities. City of Chicago buildings will still be marked for masks until the state reaches Phase 5 and capacity restrictions are lifted completely.

Neither the state nor the city are requiring “vaccination passports,” but are asking that residents take masks off based on the honor system. The CDC defines fully vaccinated as anyone who is two weeks removed from a final vaccine shot from Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson.

However, some businesses may still ask to see a vaccine record. Organizers for Lollapalooza announced on May 18 that the festival will return July 29-Aug. 1, 2021, to Grant Park, but that guests will only be admitted fully vaccinated or with a negative COVID test administered 24 hours before that day’s entry.

What’s allowed?

  • Indoor dining increases capacity from 25% to 30%
  • Gyms and fitness centers, indoor retail, museums, sporting events, amusement parks, zoos and theaters can increase capacity to 60% — which also means that more tickets are available where advanced tickets are required
  • Social events can increase capacities from 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors to 250 people indoors or 500 outdoors
  • Recreation events can increase capacity allowances to 100 people or 50% capacity indoors and 100 people outdoors

What does this mean?

Since children under the age of 12 are not yet cleared to receive any vaccines, kids are considered unvaccinated and should follow masking and social distancing rules required for unvaccinated adults.

However, when around immediate family members or at outdoor gatherings, children under 12 can take their masks off.

The CDC reports that because vaccines are effective against both serious illness caused by COVID-19 and the spread of the disease, vaccinated people are at lower risks when participating in activities that would be considered high-risk to an unvaccinated person, like eating indoors or singing in a choir indoors.

What’s next?

Gov. JB Pritzker announced that the entire state should be able to reach Phase 5 by June 11, 2021, unless positive cases begin to rise. In Phase 5, there are no capacity limits for any indoor settings and nearly every business will reopen.


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This story is updated regularly.

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