FILE - Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Illinois Department of Public Health, 1-30-2020

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, speaks at a news conference Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020, in Chicago.

(The Center Square) – The state of Illinois is issuing guidelines for reopening next week, more than 14 months after Gov. J.B. Pritzker first issues pandemic restriction for the state.

Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois plan goes into effect on June 11, marking a full reopening of all businesses and activities.

The Illinois Department of Public Health said the move comes as Illinois recently reached a test positivity rate of less than 2%, more than half of the population has been fully vaccinated and key hospitalization metrics have been declining since early May.

“This pandemic has robbed us of many freedoms such as going to ballgames and concerts, celebrating graduations, weddings, and birthdays, going to dinner with friends, and even sharing a hug with loved ones we don’t live with,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement Friday. “The vaccine is giving us our freedoms back and allowing us to move to Phase 5.”

Under Phase 5, all sectors of the economy can resume operations at regular capacity. It also marks the return of traditional festivals, conventions and large events without capacity restrictions.

Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask – except where required by law. Health officials continue to recommend mask use for people who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19, and while using mass transportation, in medical settings, in schools and day care centers and educational institutions.

In addition, the guidance for schools was updated in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control, including lifting the requirement for students to wear masks outdoors in most situations.

Staff Reporter

Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.