CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Thursday she has moved up the city’s timetable for a full reopening to match the rest of the state.
Lightfoot had planned to allow bars, restaurants, hotels and sports stadiums to open to full capacity on July 4. Now she says the city is ready to join the rest of the state in lifting all capacity restrictions on June 11. However, officials say face masks will still be required in schools, in health care settings, on public transit and in some businesses.
“The numbers are looking great. Better than they’ve been, I think, through the entirety of the pandemic,” the mayor said, pointing to the 135 cases-a-day in Chicago and to the city’s 2% test positivity rate. “We’ve done great work as a city.”
Gov. J.B. Pritzker has confirmed the state also remains on track for the full reopening June 11, as most COVID-19 metrics are at the lowest levels of the pandemic. The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 674 new cases diagnosed among 55,432 tests, keeping the average statewide positivity rate at an all-time low of 1.5%.
The reopening of Illinois next week follows 15 months of rules that at times included a ban of indoor dining, all-remote learning at public schools, a stay-at-home order and other constraints in the name of public health.
Despite Lightfoot’s announcement, the number of Chicago residents vaccinated against COVID-19 remains a concern. About 41% of the city’s residents are fully vaccinated, state records show. Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said her goal was 70% of the city’s adult population getting a first dose by July 4, a target she acknowledged was ambitious with the current rate at 63%.
“Before people uncork the Champagne and have beers all around, a note of caution: COVID’s still here, still with us, and why we are able to do what we’re doing, no doubt, is as a result of the vaccinations,” Lightfoot said.
The virus claimed 24 more lives in Illinois, raising the state’s pandemic death toll to 22,865.