State releases guidelines for moving to next step of re-opening
This weekend Illinois will move into Phase 3 of the five-phase plan for re-opening from the stay-at-home orders. It will involve re-openings of some businesses previously considered “non-essential,” many of them in a limited capacity. For example, “barbershops and salons (may) open with IDPH approved safety guidance; health and fitness clubs can provide outdoor classes and one-on-one personal training with IDPH approved safety guidance.”
It is estimated that this phase of the re-opening will see 700,000 Illinoisans return to work and about 20% of the state’s economy get back into action. In order to get more doors opened up safely, the Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) have put together a toolkit for local businesses to use in adopting standards for re-opening. There is information for everything from manufacturing and offices to service counters, personal care services, day camps and restaurants. Click here to see the set of standards. More information is available here. Businesses can also contact DCEO with questions by calling 1-800-252-2923.
Small businesses just as safe as ‘big box’ stores
In Hoopeston there is a small re-sale shop called Simply Treasures. Before the shutdown it was a place where people could come to browse their selection and make purchases. They were shut down in mid-March along with so many other small businesses. After a month and a half with no sales, they began taking online orders and made arrangements for pickups, but it was not the same as allowing customers to look over their items in person.
Valarie Hinkle wrote to me about the precautions they have taken in preparation for re-opening. She mentioned steps that hers and other businesses can take to keep people safe, everything from marking off six-foot social distancing to opening by appointment only or with only a small number of customers at a time. Valarie tells me that Simply Treasures usually only has two or three customers in the store at a time. That brought her to an observation which has been on my mind as well during the shutdown: “If you can go to Walmart and other big box stores where many people are passing through daily, it seems you would be safer shopping in the small-town retail stores.”
“Small businesses struggle enough without having big city restrictions put upon them,” she concluded. “Please consider allowing us to open now. We can put a plan in place that will keep everyone safe.”
More news from around the state
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For continually updated news from state agencies, visit: coronavirus.illinois.gov or my website at repbennett.com and click on COVID-19 Info. Persons with coronavirus questions or concerns should call the statewide toll-free coronavirus hotline at 1-800-889-3931. You can also submit questions via e-mail at email@example.com.
My district offices remain closed to in-person visits, but are still accessible by phone at (815) 432-0106 (Watseka) and (815) 844-9179 (Pontiac).