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Governor releases guidelines for more Illinois businesses to reopen in coming days

Pritzker stressed that as more businesses reopen, the No. 1 priority will continue to be the health and safety of Illinois residents and workers.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker answers questions from the media during his daily press briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic from his office at the Illinois State Capitol, Friday, May 22, 2020, in Springfield, Ill. (Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP, Pool) ORG XMIT: ILSPR702
Gov. J.B. Pritzker answers questions during his daily press briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic from his office at the Illinois State Capitol, Friday, May 22, 2020, in Springfield, Ill.
Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP, Pool

Gov. J.B. Pritzker released guidelines Sunday for retailers, manufacturers, barbershops, salons, health and fitness centers, and other businesses that will be allowed to reopen in coming days as the state enters the next phase of its “Restore Illinois” plan.

In announcing the guidelines for the third of the state’s five-phase plan, Pritzker said his administration had consulted with over 200 people representing small businesses, major companies, local park districts, hospitals, elected officials and labor leaders, among others.

The governor stressed that as more businesses reopen, the No. 1 priority will continue to be the health and safety of Illinois residents and workers, and he urged Illinois residents to continue to take precautions.

“You can’t build a strong economy if people aren’t comfortable being a part of it,” Pritzker said, adding that wearing a mask “is likely the most important thing we can do for our public health.”

“I want to be very clear: The virus is still out there, and the vast majority of people are not immune.”

Among the representatives from the state’s business community joining the governor at his Sunday morning press conference was Rob Karr, president and CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association.

Karr said his 23,000 members are eager to get back to work and hope that local public health departments will use common sense when enforcing the guidelines.

The governor noted the new state budget lawmakers approved early Sunday morning includes more than $900 million to expand the state’s contact tracing efforts and $800 million in “stability payments” to nursing homes, federally qualified health care centers and others on the frontlines of treating people with COVID-19.

“This funding will help them keep their businesses running on the other side of this pandemic,” Pritzker said.

The state’s new $41 billion budget, which takes effect July 1, also includes about $500 million for rental and mortgage assistance that Pritzker said will target areas of Illinois that have been disproportionately hurt by COVID-19.

The governor also noted that small businesses will receive $636 million in grants, with $260 million of that funding going to childcare providers.

“These are just our first steps forward in what will be a long and difficult journey,” Pritzker said just hours after the Illinois General Assembly approved the budget during a special four-day session.

“Unfortunately more hard choices … remain to be made. And those choices will have to be made along the way.”

Guidelines for Phase 3 as well as toolkits for businesses can be found on the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity website. The governor’s office estimates about 700,000 Illinois residents will be able to return to work in Phase 3.