Illinois prepares to move into Phase 3 of the governor’s plan

Kaitlyn Gibson, staff writer

On May 20, Pritzker announced that all 4 regions of Illinois would be able to reopen outdoor dining, houses of worship, state parks, health clubs, retailers, manufacturing facilities, and other nonessential businesses with limited capacity and other guidelines in place. In addition to the reopenings, Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan states that “gatherings of 10 people or fewer for any reason can resume.”

Many Illinoisans have been complaining about Governor J.B. Pritzker’s approach to protect the state from the pandemic; Illinois is one of three states that has primarily remained shut down. The governor finally agreed that it was time to start reopening businesses, but will the restrictions set in place be enough?

One of the main reasons why people think the move is a good idea is that the curve is flattening. The state’s positivity rate, which is the percentage of positive cases from the tests conducted, has been at 12% for the last week. The amount of hospitalizations has also been decreasing, which is a good sign. However, having fewer cases doesn’t mean that new cases aren’t appearing. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, there were 2,508 new cases confirmed on May 24, along with an additional 67 deaths.

Despite the fact that the virus remains a threat, many think it’s time to get back to “normal.” One of those people happens to be President Donald Trump. 

On May 22, Trump demanded that governors allow churches to reopen, saying, “If they don’t do it, I will override [them].” Although he can’t actually do that, a lot of people accepted his support and used it as justification for their defiance against their state’s restrictions. 

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was not happy with the statement, however, and responded, “We are not going to rush to do something so he can fulfill a campaign promise that sets people’s lives at risk.”

An important factor to consider when moving into a new phase is the guidelines that are/will be in place. The requirements for the third phase of Restore Illinois include wearing face coverings, remaining 6-feet apart, and washing/sanitizing hands frequently. 

Even though some may argue that this is more than enough protection, it’s not guaranteed that everyone will follow these guidelines. 

On May 2, Lightfoot had to issue a statement regarding an increase in large gatherings, saying, “We will shut you down. We will cite you and if we need to, we will arrest you and we will take you to jail. Period.” Though it is clear that the mayor isn’t letting rebelliousness slide, the fact that there’s been this much defiance doesn’t make the decision to move forward look promising.

So, is Pritzker making the right choice by transitioning the state into Phase 3? The numbers say “yes,” but the noncompliant Illinoisans make it really easy to say “no.” Regardless of the governor’s decision, the fate of all is in the hands of the people.