CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people on Thursday, allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.
The guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters but it will help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools, and other venues - even removing the need for social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated.
"We have all longed for this moment - when we can get back to some sense of normalcy," said Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said at an earlier White House briefing.
Governor JB Pritzker quickly followed with an announcement that Illinois will abide by the new CDC guidance.
His office released a statement saying, "The Governor believes firmly in following the science and intends to revise his executive orders in line with the upcoming CDC guidelines lifting additional mitigations for vaccinated people. The scientists' message is clear: if you are vaccinated, you can safely do much more."
Spokespeople for the city of Chicago also indicated they will broadly follow the new guidance, though there may be some additional categories in which mask-wearing for vaccinated people will be expected to continue.
"We will work with the state and our industry and business partners to review and update guidance for specific settings, and expect to broadly follow this new CDC guidance across most settings," the statement said in part.
"This does not, however, mean that masks are going away," the city added. "We also agree with the CDC that masks should be worn during travel, including use of public transit, and that the unvaccinated should continue to wear masks in most settings."
But the new guidelines present complications for business owners, especially since there is no way to immediately know if someone who is not wearing a mask is, in fact, actually vaccinated.
"It certainly poses questions about, how do we then make sure that people are indeed vaccinated, and hopefully they'll be able to give us, as business owners, some guidance to make sure that we're operating but still making sure that public health is our primary concern," said Maren Rosenberg, owner of Escape Artistry.
And some doctors and medical experts have concerns as well.
Dr. Allison Bartlett, an epidemiologist at Comer Children's Hospital, is concerned that the relaxed mask guidelines could lead to another possible surge. Her hope is that it will encourage more people to get vaccinated.
"I don't know how powerful of an incentive it's going to be to get vaccinated and then not have to wear your mask when you could honestly lie and say you're vaccinated, and not wear your mask," she said.
Illinois and Chicago are set to move into the Bridge Phase of reopening Friday. Moving into the phase requires 70% of Illinoisans 65 and older to have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. As of Wednesday's reporting, 80.98% of people 65 and older in the state have received at least one dose.
Will Lollapalooza return?
Two reports, one from Variety and one from Crain's, cite sources that say Chicago's post popular music festival will return this summer, after a one year hiatus due to COVID-19.
But Mayor Lori Lightfoot's offices will not verify those reports.
In a statement, the city said in part, that it's "been in conversation with several large event organizers, including the team at Lollapalooza, on how to bring these experiences back to Chicago in a safe way."
The city added that, "while conversations have been moving forward in a positive way, nothing has been confirmed."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.