Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday that she expects the city to be “fully open” by July 4, with Gov. JB Pritzker saying the rest of the state is on a “similar timeline.”
The two were together Tuesday for a news conference announcing the return of the Chicago Auto Show in mid-July that will be shorter, smaller and be held both inside and out as efforts to continue mitigating the spread of COVID-19 will still be in place.
“This is a huge step away from the challenges of the pandemic and toward normalcy,” Pritzker said.
Pritzker added that his administration and state health officials were watching COVID-19 infection and hospitalization metrics “like a hawk,” but that he remained “optimistic” that the numbers were moving in the right direction.
Infection figures and hospitalizations have declined as more people get vaccinated against the respiratory disease, however some worry that demand for the vaccine has waned and could jeopardize the ability to achieve herd immunity.
That’s not stopping reopening plans just yet however.
“We feel very confident about what the summer is going to look like, and it will be more like 2019 than 2020,” Lightfoot said. “This summer is going to be very different, very festive.”
Many other events and activities that were canceled or restricted last summer will be allowed to take place this year, officials announced at the news conference Tuesday at McCormick Place in the city. However, most still will require masks for the most part.
Lightfoot said the city’s businesses would see a full reopening with no capacity limits, but expects masks to be something we see as a society for a while.
The governor, mayor and public health officials also urged unvaccinated individuals to get immunized in order to create herd immunity and prevent variants that could breakthrough the benefits of the current vaccines.
“The trends are encouraging, but we must be cautious as we move forward,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “As more venues reopen, it is critical that we increase the number of people who are vaccinated. Immunity is how we stop transmission of this virus, but we need greater community immunity and that requires as many of us as possible getting vaccinated as soon as possible.”