Illinois is moving closer to allowing full capacity at public places such as stadiums and casinos.
On May 14, the state officially went into Bridge Phase, which is a transition period that brings the state closer to a full reopening with greater capacity limits permitted. It’s the second-to-last stage in the Restore Illinois opening plan, which concludes with Phase 5 when all capacity limits are lifted.
“Illinoisans have worked so hard over the past year and a half to keep their families and neighbors safe, and reaching Bridge Phase means that we’re closer than ever to a return to normalcy,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Thursday. “To keep up this progress, I urge every eligible Illinoisan – now including 12 to 15-year-olds – to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”
Under the bridge phase, Illinois’ 10 casinos (including those with retail Illinois sportsbooks) would be allowed to raise capacity limits from 50% to 60%.
According to the state, the new target date for a full reopening and entering of Phase 5 is June 11, “barring any significant reversals in our key COVID-19 statewide indicators.” It would mark the first time since early March 2020 that casinos would operate without any capacity limitations.
"We're headed in the right direction," Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said on May 10. "But everything about this pandemic has to have an asteroid of caution because of the twists and turns, and as the governor and doctor said, we've got to get people vaccinated so that we can get ahead of these variants."
More fans at games
Previously, Chicago’s professional sports teams were permitted to fill 25% of their home arenas and stadiums. Under the bridge phase, that limit is increased to 60%. The Cubs and White Sox have raised their limits, with the White Sox raising capacity to 24,300 fans at Guaranteed Rate Field on May 24.
The new capacity limits at Wrigley Field take effect on May 28 for a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds. Both teams will also feature newly designated seating areas for fans who are fully vaccinated.
If Chicago reaches Phase 5 by the scheduled June 11 target date, both the Cubs and White Sox will have no limitations on attendance. This bodes well for the Bears, who had no fans for the entirety of the 2020 season but would now have ample time to prepare for a packed crowd for 2021, barring no setbacks with the virus.