Safe-At-Home In Chicago

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Stay Home Safe in Chicago

Cooped up in our homes for what seems like an eternity, the question remains: When will it all be normal again? State officials issued stay-at-home orders over a month ago, and they still can't agree on much of anything. To stay up-to-date on all changes and updates in Illinois, visit the COVID-19 Response Site. For all coronavirus questions, visit the CDC's website.

Some state officials say it's time to reopen, and some insist that opening too soon could cause a catastrophic second wave. The only thing that seems apparent is that no one has any idea what's happening at any given moment during this pandemic. 

The amount of unclarity on our policy is staggering. It seems like every state has different regulations and timetables, so where does that leave us, the average citizen? It leaves us caught in the middle.

When caught in between two different schools of thought, I find the best practice is playing devil's advocate. I try not to buy into one way of thinking over another too often, and with the amount of information and misinformation surrounding COVID-19, I think that's a good policy.

What matters most is staying safe. With some states reopening and some states not, how do we do that? If you're in Chicago, read on to find out.

Illinois Extends its Stay-At-Home Order To the End of May

Governor Pritzker extended the stay-at-home order to the end of May, but he plans on starting the next phase of reopening on May 29th. The plan, however, isn't the same for every county.

Pritzker divided Illinois into four regions: Northeast, Northwest, Central, and Southern. State officials decided on the four sectors using the Illinois Department of Public Health's 11 Emergency Medical Service regions. Chicagoans and other residents in the Northeast sector will have to wait longer to enjoy sweet summer freedom than those in the Southern region.

The Five Phases

Pritzker's plan involves gradually reopening using a five-phase model. The five phases control every aspect of social life, including what businesses can open, how many people can gather in an area, and the permitted health care procedures.

Health Care

Phase 1: COVID-19 health care and emergency health care procedures only
Phase 2: Elective health care procedures, with IDPH approval.
Phase 3: Health care providers open, with IDPH approval.
Phase 4: All open.
Phase 5: All open.

Gatherings

Phase 1: Essential gatherings must be 10 or fewer. No nonessential gatherings.
Phase 2: Essential gatherings must be 10 or fewer. No nonessential gatherings. 
Phase 3: All gatherings of 10 or fewer allowed.
Phase 4: Gatherings of 50 people or fewer allowed, following CDC guidelines. 
Phase 5: Large gatherings of all sizes can resume.

Schools

Phase 1: Remote learning. Schools, universities closed.
Phase 2: Remote learning. Schools, universities closed.
Phase 3: Remote learning. Schools closed.
Phase 4: All schools, universities can open.
Phase 5: All schools, universities can open.

Child care

Phase 1: Must be 10 or fewer and for essential workers.
Phase 2: Must be 10 or fewer and for essential workers.
Phase 3: Limited child care and summer youth activities can open.
Phase 4: Child care can open with guidance.
Phase 5: All open.

Restaurants

Phase 1: Open for drive-thru, pickup, and delivery.
Phase 2: Open for drive-thru, pickup, and delivery.
Phase 3: Open for drive-thru, pickup, delivery, and outdoor dining with limitations.
Phase 4: Open with capacity limits.
Phase 5: All open.

Essential retail

Phase 1: Open with restrictions.
Phase 2: Open with restrictions.
Phase 3: Open with restrictions.
Phase 4: Open with restrictions.
Phase 5: All open.

Nonessential retail

Phase 1: Closed.
Phase 2: Open for delivery and curbside pickup.
Phase 3: Open with capacity limits.
Phase 4: Open with capacity limits.
Phase 5: All open.
Manufacturing

Manufacturing

Phase 1: Essential only.
Phase 2: Essential only.
Phase 3: Nonessential with distancing.
Phase 4: All open with distance.
Phase 5: All open.

Travel

Phase 1: Emergency travel and nonessential travel allowed but discouraged.
Phase 2: Emergency travel and nonessential travel allowed but discouraged.
Phase 3: All allowed, following CDC guidance.
Phase 4: All allowed, following CDC guidance.
Phase 5: All allowed, following CDC guidance.

Health clubs

Phase 1: Closed.
Phase 2: Closed.
Phase 3: Can provide limited training and activities.
Phase 4: Open with capacity limits.
Phase 5: All open.

Personal care

Phase 1: Closed.
Phase 2: Closed.
Phase 3: Allowed with guidance.
Phase 4: Open with capacity limits.
Phase 5: All open.

Outdoor activities

Phase 1: Distanced outdoor activities.
Phase 2: Some state parks; outdoor activities like boating, fishing, and golf allowed.
Phase 3: State parks open, activities with 10 or fewer allowed.
Phase 4: All allowed.
Phase 5: All allowed.

Progressing Through Each Phase

If a region progresses into the second phase of reopening, it doesn't mean they stay there forever. Sectors can regress in phases based on the spread of the virus.
Because of this, Chicagoans must stay informed during the coming months on Chicago's phase number. They might be able to go out with friends one weekend in June and not in July.

Will I Face Severe Punishment for Violating the Stay-At-Home Order?

The short answer: it depends. States are unclear on their official policy enforcing the stay-at-home order. Again, what matters most is staying safe, so ask yourself a simple question: is it worth it?

That answer to that question varies from person to person. Some people may be struggling with depression during the pandemic. For them, gathering with a group of friends during phase one might be a health necessity.

On the contrary, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city will issue fines to churches and small businesses that violate the stay-at-home order. It seems then that law enforcement isn't as concerned with individuals trying to create a healthy lifestyle as businesses that could potentially cause large gatherings.

Stay-At-Home as Much as You Can

After two months in quarantine, it's natural to feel stir-crazy. But make no mistake, the pandemic is not over, and this is going to be a long haul. It's essential to exercise caution while we're returning to reasonable social standards, but it's also crucial to do things that make us happy.

The small things like drive-by happy birthdays and connecting virtually with friends and family through playing cards or video games are what's going to keep us healthy and comfortable throughout. So be careful, but remember to be kind and patient as well.

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