Restore Illinois Phase 4 — New Opportunities with Continued Caution

Restore Illinois Phase 4 — New Opportunities with Continued Caution

The next phase of Illinois’s process of reopening relaxes some standards for business operations, while maintaining policies for social distancing and other prevention strategies. Industry-specific guidelines are detailed in the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s online resourcesThe logistics of implementing those policies will be a major focus for months to come as the fully-reopened Phase 5 standards may not be reached in the foreseeable future.

In Phase 4, which began June 26, gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed, bars and restaurants can offer indoor service with capacity limits, health and fitness clubs can reopen with capacity limits, and movie theaters can begin reopening. Schools, camps, and child care facilities can operate, and non-essential businesses can bring all workers back. Face coverings continue to be a minimum expectation for workers and customers, with more in-depth screening and infection control measures strongly recommended as best practices.

The 50-person gathering threshold of Phase 4 will make a significant difference for business meetings at the Embassy Suites Deerfield.  “Most of our events tend to be smaller meetings. We have put together special packages for business conferences as low as $275 that include free WiFi, videoconferencing, and other technology,” says Director of Sales & Marketing John D’Astice. “Business meeting planners will be able to take advantage of some great deals for the next month or so.”  He also has seen an uptick in weekend room reservations as local attractions like the Chicago Botanic Garden plan to reopen. “Right now it’s mostly people looking to get out of the house for a weekend,” says John. “I think in September or October we should see higher occupancy once business travel picks up again.”

The DCOE Business Toolkit offers guidelines for specific categories of activities, as well as downloadable posters, checklists, social media images, and more. Categories include:

  • Meetings and Social Events
  • Indoor and Outdoor Recreation
  • Indoor and Outdoor Dining
  • Museums & Zoos
  • Theaters and Performing Arts
  • Youth and Recreational Sports
  • Film Production
  • Manufacturing
  • Offices
  • Retail
  • Service Counters
  • Health and Fitness Centers
  • Personal Care Services
  • Day Camps
  • Although the earlier phases of the Restore Illinois plan had defined timeframes for progress, the duration of Phase 4 is uncertain.  The final stage of recovery, Phase 5, is defined as a post-pandemic state including a “vaccine, effective and widely available treatment, or the elimination of new cases over a sustained period of time through herd immunity or other factors.”  While vaccines have been fast-tracked for testing, it is likely to take months to achieve the goals for Phase 5 — and resurgences of the virus in other states raise the risk of a ripple effect on Illinois that could force backtracking to tighter restrictions.