Mayor Lightfoot said the plan to reopen Chicago will be a slow and calculated process, driven by science and the public. The plan is specifically tailored to the needs of residents, with an initial focus on essential workers.
"Reopening will be like slowly turning on a dimmer - not flipping a light-switch," she explained. "Our reopening process only works if we're stopping the spread of the disease."
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The city is now preparing to reopen and expand business operations in Chicago, but with the caveat that the plan is dependent on residents complying with public health guidelines.
"Phase Three is a limited re-opening with some non-essential workers coming back, and certain businesses, non-profits, and City entities opening under strict conditions," Lightfoot said.
When these workers return, they can expect a new normal, including: possible temperature checks at office entrances, barriers between desks and wearing face masks at all times. The city is now preparing to send reopening guidelines to business owners.
"These guidelines will cover everything from capacity restrictions, protective equipment, hygiene and testing," Lightfoot said.
The sequenced reopening will eventually allow for parks and libraries to reopen, but don't make plans to hit the lakefront anytime soon.
The mayor said each phased move will require a decline in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, increased testing, and the public following health orders.
"Health is what got us into this, and health is what will get us out," Lightfoot said. "None of us want to see us taking steps back. Reopening could lead to re-closing if we are not patient, smart and diligent."
Mayor Lightfoot also warned the city could still be managing outbreaks over the next six to 12 months so the public's attention to the stay-at-home order and social distancing will be key to moving forward.
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The "Protecting Chicago" framework comprises five phases, and Chicago has already transitioned from phase one (Strict Stay-at-Home) to phase two (Stay-at-Home):
PHASE ONE: STRICT STAY-AT-HOME - Limit the amount of contact with others; goal is to limit interactions to rapidly slow the spread of COVID-19
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PHASE TWO: STAY-AT-HOME - Guard against unsafe interactions with others; goal is to continue flattening the curve while safely being outside
PHASE THREE: CAUTIOUSLY REOPEN - Strict physical distancing with some businesses opening; goal is to thoughtfully begin to reopen Chicago safely
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PHASE FOUR: GRADUALLY RESUME - Continued staggered reopening into a new normal; goal is to further reopen Chicago while ensuring the safety of residents
PHASE FIVE: PROTECT - Continue to protect vulnerable populations; goal is to continue to maintain safety until COVID-19 is contained