Restoring Illinois – Protecting Our Communities FAQs

On May 29, Gov. JB Pritzker signed Executive Order 36 – Restoring Illinois – Protecting Our Communities – to safely and conscientiously resume activities that were paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While continuing to protect communities, the Governor’s action is part of the Restore Illinois plan and is designed to reopen the state’s economy and begin to repair the economic damage brought on by the pandemic.  For more information, see below.


Q: Does the latest Executive Order mean the stay at home mandate is over?

A: Yes.  However, when outside your residence you must always and as reasonably possible maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people who do not live with you. Keeping space between you and others is one of the best tools to avoiding being exposed to the virus.

Q: Do I need to wear a face covering?

 A: Any individual over the age of 2 and able to medically tolerate a face covering (a mask or cloth covering) must cover their nose and mouth with a face covering when in a public place and unable to maintain a six-foot social distance.  This applies whether indoor, such as in a store, or in a public outdoor space where maintaining a 6-foot distance is not always possible.

Q: Are large gatherings still limited?

A: Yes.  Gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited, except for members of a household or residence.  Because in-person contact presents the greatest risk of COVID-19 transmission, Illinoisans are encouraged to continue limiting in-person contact with others and to expand their social contact cautiously.

Q: Is it safe to go outdoors?

A: Yes.  The risks of transmission of COVID-19 are greatly reduced outdoors as opposed to indoors.  Wherever possible, Illinoisans are encouraged to go outdoors for fresh air and exercise – walk, hike, jog, bike, visit public parks and outdoor recreation areas, golf, boat, fish, or simply enjoy the outdoors. State parks, fish and wildlife areas, and recreational areas are open (https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/closures/Pages/ParksOpenDuringCoVID19.aspx).  Campgrounds are open at state parks and recreational areas, while shelters, playgrounds, and visitor centers will remain closed.  

Q: Can restaurants and bars reopen?

A: Restaurants, bars, grocery stores, and food halls may not allow on-premise consumption, but can continue and are encouraged to serve food and beverages to be consumed off premise through in-house delivery, third-party delivery, drive-through, carry-out, and curbside pick-up. These businesses can provide outdoor on-premises food and beverage consumption in accordance with DCEO guidance (https://dceocovid19resources.com/assets/Restore-Illinois/businessguidelines3/restaurantbars.pdf) and when permitted by local ordinances and regulations.

Q: Are places such as yoga studios, CrossFit gyms, or Pilates allowed to hold classes?

A: Fitness and exercise gyms may open for personal training sessions involving one trainer and one customer, outdoor training in groups no larger than 10 with social distancing, and onsite filming or streaming of remote classes conducted by a single trainer.  Member workouts are not allowed because of the heightened risk of COVID-19 transmission when people exercise together and have equipment in an indoor space. https://dceocovid19resources.com/assets/Restore-Illinois/businessguidelines3/healthandfitness.pdf

Q: How about hair salons and other person service businesses?

A: Spas, hair salons, barber shops, nail salons, waxing centers, tattoo parlors, and similar facilities may open, but must ensure the use of face coverings, adherence to social distancing requirements, and use of capacity limits (https://dceocovid19resources.com/assets/Restore-Illinois/businessguidelines3/personalcare.pdf).

Q: Can outdoor youth sports and camps resume?

A: Youth day camps (https://dceocovid19resources.com/assets/Restore-Illinois/businessguidelines3/summerprograms.pdf) and youth sports (https://dceocovid19resources.com/assets/Restore-Illinois/businessguidelines3/youthsports.pdf) may be open but must ensure the use of face coverings, adherence to social distancing requirements, and must take other public health steps in accordance with DCEO guidance.

Q: What about playgrounds, movie theaters, and amusement parks?

A: Places of public amusement must remain closed.  These include locations with amusement rides, carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, aquariums, zoos, museums, arcades, fairs, children’s play centers, playgrounds, theme parks, bowling alleys, movie and other theaters, and concert and music halls.

Q: What are the new guidelines for golf?

A:  Golfers may now be grouped in foursomes with tee times spaced at 10-minute intervals.  Golf carts are permitted and can be shared by members of the same household, otherwise single-use carts are required.  Players must maintain adequate physical distancing (6 feet) between each other. Driving ranges, chipping greens, and putting greens are permitted with 50 percent capacity  (https://www2.illinois.gov/dceo/RestoreIL_DOCS/J011328%20DCEO%20Restore%20IL%20-%20Guidelines%20-%20Golf%20restrictions%20-%20r7.pdf#search=golf).

Q: Are religious services permitted?

A: Yes. There is no limit to the free exercise of religion.  Houses of worship and religious organizations, however, are urged to provide services online, in a drive-in format, or outdoors, and to limit indoor services to 10 people.  Religious organizations are encouraged to take steps to ensure social distancing, the use of face coverings, and implementation of IDPH recommended practices and guidelines.

Q: Can office buildings reopen?

A: Employers must ensure employees practice social distancing and take appropriate public health precautions, in accordance with Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) guidance https://dceocovid19resources.com/assets/Restore-Illinois/businessguidelines3/offices.pdf. These safeguards may include providing face coverings to those not able to maintain 6-foot social distancing, implementing capacity limits, allowing telework where possible, and posting plans and signage to ensure social distancing in waiting rooms, service counters, cafeterias, and other shared spaces.

Q: Are manufacturers allowed to resume operations?

A: Yes, but they must ensure employees practice social distancing and take appropriate public health precautions in accordance with DCEO guidance (https://dceocovid19resources.com/assets/Restore-Illinois/businessguidelines3/manufacturing.pdf) that include – providing face coverings to employees not able to maintain a 6-foot social distance, consider implementing capacity limits where physical space does not allow social distancing, allow telework where possible, and post signs to reinforce social distancing in waiting rooms, service counters, cafeterias, and other shared spaces.

Q:  This latest step puts us at what phase of Restore Illinois?

 A: As of June 1, 2020, most regions in Illinois are in Phase 3 of Restore Illinois, the five-phased plan to reopen the state released May 5 by Governor Pritzker.  The plan is guided by health metrics and with distinct business, education, and recreation activities characterizing each phase. Check the IDPH website regularly for information on what stage each region is in at https://www.dph.illinois.gov/restore.  The four regions are Northeast, North Central, Central Illinois and Southern (https://coronavirus.illinois.gov/s/restore-illinois-regional-dashboard).

Q: Who developed Restore Illinois?

A: Governor Pritzker worked closely with medical and public health experts at IDPH and received feedback from public health and hospital partners as well as local elected officials, mayors, and businesses who have been in regular communication with the administration.

Q: What are the five phases?

Phase 1 Rapid Spread

Strict stay at home and social distancing guidelines are put in place, and only essential businesses remain open.

Every region has experienced this phase once already and could return to it if mitigation efforts are unsuccessful.

Phase 2 Flattening

Non-essential retail stores reopen for curb-side pickup and delivery.

Illinoisans are directed to wear a face covering when outside the home and can begin enjoying additional outdoor activities like golf, boating & fishing while practicing social distancing.

Phase 3 Recovery

Manufacturing, offices, retail, barbershops, and salons can reopen to the public with capacity and other limits and safety precautions.

Gatherings of 10 people or fewer are allowed.

Face coverings and social distancing are the norm.

Phase 4 Revitalization

Gatherings of 50 people or fewer are allowed, restaurants and bars reopen, travel resumes, childcare and schools reopen under guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Face coverings and social distancing are the norm.

Phase 5 Illinois Restored

The economy fully reopens with safety precautions continuing.

Conventions, festivals and large events are permitted, and all businesses, schools and places of recreation can open with new safety guidance and procedures.

Q: Can local governments adopt stricter policies than the state’s Phase 3 guidance?

A: Yes.  Local governments have the discretion to impose stricter policies based on their public health situation.

Q: How we move to the next phase?

A: The determination to move from Phase 3 to Phase 4 will be driven by the COVID-19 positivity rate in each region and measures of maintaining regional hospital surge capacity. This data will be tracked from the time a region enters a new phase.

  • At or under 20 percent positivity rate and increasing no more than 10 percentage points over a 14-day period, and
  • no overall increase (i.e., stability or decrease) in hospital admissions for COVID-19-like illness for 28 days, and
  • available surge capacity of at least 14 percent of intensive care beds, medical and surgical beds, and ventilators.

Testing must be available in the region regardless of the person’s symptoms or risk factors.  In addition, the region must be able to conduct contact tracing and monitoring within 24 hours of diagnosis for more than 90 percent of cases in the region.

Q: Can regions backslide to a previous phase?

A: Yes. IDPH will be closely monitoring data and will work in partnership with local health departments and regional health care councils to change a region’s status in these circumstances:

  • Sustained rise in positivity rate
  • Sustained increase in hospital admissions for COVID-19 like illness
  • Reduction in hospital capacity threatening surge capabilities
  • Significant outbreak in the region that threatens the health of the region