Wed, 23 Sep 2020

U.S. Illinois reopens as "stay-at-home" order ends

30 May 2020, 06:59 GMT+10

CHICAGO, May 29 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of restaurants and bars struggling on the verge of closing temporarily or permanently in the past two months across the U.S. Midwest state of Illinois, except for those in downtown Chicago, reopened Friday, though only for outdoor service and with restrictions.

Reopening together with restaurants and bars are hair salons, barbershops, nonessential retailers, offices, and manufacturing.

Under Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker's "Restore Illinois" plan, the reopening is cautious and must follow some new rules: outdoor dining and drinking are limited to parties of six or fewer, with tables spaced at least 6 feet apart from one another and from customer service areas.

For nonessential retailers, such as shopping malls, they have to limit the number of customers in a store at one time to half the usual capacity, or five customers per 1,000 square feet of retail space, similar to the rules that have been in place for grocery stores and other essential retailers since May 1, and both customers and employees have to wear face coverings.

For personal care services, such as hair salons, barbershops, hair braiders, spas, tattoo parlors, nail salons, waxing centers and cosmetology schools, they must limit services to those that can be performed with both the customer and the employee wearing a facial covering over their nose and mouth, accept reservations only and no walk-ins, and limit massages and other body treatments within 30 minutes or less.

Offices can reopen at 50-percent capacity, with employees required to wear face coverings when within 6 feet of co-workers; while factories, plants and mills can resume operations with either 6 feet of distance or impermeable barriers between employee workstations, and ramped-up cleaning and disinfecting between shifts.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has her own plan for reopening of downtown Chicago, and fixed the reopening on June 3, but with tighter restrictions: nonessential retailers and salons and other businesses will be limited to 25 percent of normal capacity.

The Chicago Lakefront will remain closed for the time being, as will playgrounds. And noncontact sports will be permitted in parks, she said.

To prevent COVID-19 from spreading, Pritzker issued "stay-at-home" order which initially went into effect on March 21, and then renewed it on April 23.

On March 26, Lightfoot ordered the closure of trails, bike paths, green spaces and parks near the city's Lakefront in an accelerated effort to fight COVID-19.

By Friday, Illinois has reported a total of 117,455 COVID-19 cases, and a total death toll of 5,270, with near half of the cases and deaths occurring in Chicago area.

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