The statewide stay-at-home order will extend to May 30 with some changes, including mandatory face mask usage in restrictive public spaces, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday.
State parks will be reopened soon for hiking, fishing and boating with strict social distancing rules maintained. Starting May 1, retail stories not considered essential businesses with the original order can take orders online, over the phone or provide pick-up and delivery options to customers. Greenhouses and garden centers can remain open with specified social distancing measures. Surgical centers and hospitals can schedule non-threatening surgeries that were delayed to place a priority on coronavirus patients and medical supplies. For essential businesses on the state list, including manufacturers, there are new requirements on social distancing and new limits on occupancy.
In addition, starting on May 1, any individual over the age of two and able to medically tolerate a face covering or mask will be required to wear one when in a public place where they can’t maintain a six-foot social distance. The Governor will sign an extension of the order next week with the changes and mandatory face coverings or mask usage.
Gov. Pritzker agreed the extension will require more sacrifices for Illinois residents in coming weeks. On Thursday, he cited data showing Illinois has not reached a peak on virus infections. During the daily update on coronavirus in Illinois, health officials reported 1,826 new positive cases of coronavirus and 123 deaths. In recent days, Newton Care Center has reported COVID infections involving 26 nursing home residents and 15 employees.
“I know that even with these changes, this Stay at Home order leaves many restrictions in place. In the coming weeks, as we get to the point of working our way down the other side of our peak, there will be more to do to get people back to work and open up more,” Pritzker said. “Understand that these are not choices made arbitrarily – these changes are what the data says we can offer the people of Illinois without risking so much viral transmission that our hospitals become overrun. That said, if we start to see crowds and people violating the order or breaking the rules, I will need to bring back these restrictions. I’m hopeful we won’t need to do that.”
Pritzker explained the stay-at-home order has already saved lives in Illinois, and its extension can continue to prevent more infections and shield hospitals from being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. Unlike other governors in some states, Pritzker said medical science and not political pressure should determine when the state ends the stay-at-home order and business restrictions.
“We’ve built up our hospital capacity significantly – but if we let up now, we would have nowhere near the kind of hospital capacity we would need. The projections are clear – if we lifted the Stay at Home order tomorrow, we would see our deaths per day shoot into the thousands by the end of May and that would last well into the summer. Our hospitals would be full and very sick people would have nowhere to go. People who otherwise might have won their fight against COVID would die because we wouldn’t be able to help them through. No amount of political pressure would ever make me allow such a scenario in Illinois.”