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Lightfoot: Phase 4 Starts Friday But Precautions Still Needed

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Chicago and the rest of the state are making big progress toward "flattening the curve."

But health experts warn we're not at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic just yet. Illinois reported 462 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 26 deaths in the past 24 hours.

The state's positivity rate is also declining, now at just 2%. Those encouraging metrics are a factor in Chicago's move to the next phase of reopening.

CBS 2's Vince Gerasole explains what it means.

Opening this Friday for the first time in Chicago, places like museums and  zoos, indoor use of restaurants and bars is also on the list. Indoor gatherings will be limited to 50 people or 25% of overall capacity, outdoor gatherings will be limited to 100 people.

It follows an overall positivity rate that has dropped to roughly 5%.  Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot's benchmark to move to Phase 4 had been 7%.

"It's because of the shared sacrifice that we are able to announce that Chicago will be able to take the next step," Lightfoot said. "What we do know is we have lots of active infections here still."

That's why major sporting venues are not currently on the list. The same can be said for large theaters and convention spaces. Playgrounds, pools and beaches also remain closed, venues that are tricky to keep clean and socially distanced.

"This is why we are being cautious and prudent," Lightfoot said.


Here's how reopening at Phase 4 can work:

At the massive Field Museum, visitors will be limited to 3,500. That's 25% of its total capacity.  Paths through exhibits will be one-way and the pre-purchase of tickets will be greatly encouraged.

The mayor knows there are additional sectors that wish they could be making similar plans.

"The way we are taking this approach, turning the dimmer switch, causes economic harm and hardship. We recognize that, but my first responsibility is to save lives," Lightfoot.

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