By Lynn McDonald
This past year has been difficult, to say the least. Families and friends have been separated, some for long periods of time. As the winter drags on, many are faced with cabin fever and melancholy from the ongoing isolation. Every day we are faced with an obstacle course of challenges that we must navigate with great care, all while striving to maintain a positive outlook and mental well-being.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Of course, no one can yet tell when the pandemic will come to an end, but we can celebrate the small things along the way. Here in Illinois, Coronavirus cases have gone down to such an extent that we have recently been upgraded to Phase Four metrics. The strict restrictions under which we have lived for the past few months have been lifted, allowing a collective sigh of relief as we tentatively venture out into society once again.
So, what exactly does the Phase Four: Revitalization tier entail? According to the State of Illinois Coronavirus Response website, the new guidelines are as follows:
- Gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed.
- All travel is allowed, subject to IDPH and CDC guidelines.
- All healthcare providers are allowed to open.
- Education can commence in person. “P-12 schools, higher education, all summer programs and childcare open with IDPH approved safety guidance.”
- All outdoor recreational activities can resume.
- All manufacturing and “non-essential” business can resume operation with employees returning to work, subject to IDPH guidance.
- Restaurants and bars can open to inside dining, with capacity limits, per IDPH guidelines.
- Gyms, barbershops, spas, and salons are allowed to open, with capacity limits.
- Movie theaters are allowed to open, with capacity limits, per IDPH guidelines.
After living so long in solitude, these measures will bring a much-needed ray of sunshine into our lives. Once again, we can have lunch with a friend, catch the latest movie release, or get that crazy quarantine hair snipped. Venture forth, my friends, and enjoy a very well-deserved respite!