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šŸ“° Illinois to ease COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings, businesses, Gov. Pritzker says | Coronavirus | stltoday.com

Gov. J.B. Pritzker discusses Chicago's vaccination efforts during a news conference at the Harris Bank Building in the Loop, Monday, May 10, 2021, in Chicago. (Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

COVID-19 restrictions will be eased across Illinois beginning Friday, including changes to rules on gatherings and business capacity limits, according to Gov. J.B. Pritzker's office.Ā 

The state will move into the "bridge phase" - the final stage of restrictions before fully reopening.Ā If Illinois avoids any spikes in COVID-19 hospitalizations or deaths, it will fully reopen June 11, according to the governor's office.Ā 

The phase beginning Friday will raise allowed capacity at many public places, including offices, retail businesses, museums and theaters, to 60%, up from either 25% or 50% in most cases.

Restaurant capacity limits will go from 25% to 30% indoors and up to 50% outdoors. Caps for social events like weddings will be raised from 100 people to 250 for indoor events and 500 for outdoor gatherings.Ā 

The state will continue to follow maskĀ guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC announced Thursday that fully vaccinated people can remove masks in group settings, but the agency still recommends wearing masks in public places like grocery stores, public transportation and hospitals.

Pritzker added the bridge phase to the state's five-phase reopening plan on March 18 to ease restrictions without fully reopening the state.Ā 

"Illinoisans have worked so hard over the past year and a half to keep their families and neighbors safe, and reaching bridge phase means that we're closer than ever to a return to normalcy," Pritzker said in a written statement Thursday. "To keep up this progress, I urge every eligible IllinoisanĀ - now including 12- to 15-year-oldsĀ - to get vaccinated as soon as possible."

By Thursday, about 62% of adults in Illinois had received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to state Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. In Missouri, 49.5% of adults have received at least one dose.Ā 

Illinois' rolling seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases has fallen more than 40% over the last month.

The state has reported about 1.4 million cases of COVID-19, including 22,320 deaths.

People who live or work in Illinois and are at least 18 can find vaccine locations online at https://coronavirus.illinois.gov/s/vaccination-location. For locations that are serving people ages 12 and up, visit https://www.vaccines.gov/.

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