The state official hopes to be absolutely open once more by the summer season of Illinois

The state of Illinois could fully reopen this summer. At least that is the hope of Governor JB Pritzker’s chief of staff.

During a budget hearing on Tuesday, Chief of Staff Anne Caprara defended dozens of consecutive governor rulings from the past 13 months amid the COVID-19 pandemic. These orders had far-reaching consequences for people, schools and businesses. During the pandemic, unemployment rose to record levels, schools were temporarily closed and thousands of businesses closed permanently.

The orders were about saving as many lives as possible, she said.

With the idea that we don’t want to govern like that, ”said Caprara. “We would very much like to return to normal times.”

Last year, the government said the virus was responsible for around 21,400 deaths. The state has lost more than a third of small businesses since the pandemic began and the governor’s order restricting economic activity.

Illinois has been in Phase 4 of the governor’s five-phase reopening plan for months, with capacity restrictions on all types of activities, including outdoor dining and sporting events. Indoor dining was limited year-round and conventions were put on hold.

Caprara said she hoped that by the beginning of summer we will be in a place where we can move on to phase 5.

“I always hesitate to say definitely where we will be because we have now ridden through multiple climbs and declines in COVID cases,” Caprara said. “More than ever in the last 14 months, I am more hopeful than ever about where we are going and hope that I can return to some semblance of normality in the next few months.”

The government has also raised concerns about the COVID-19 variants, of which the state has reported 600 nationwide in the past two months. To move towards a full reopening, Caprara stipulated how much of the state’s population should be vaccinated.

“We’re really seeing 5 million Illinois people, 50% of whom are 16+ will be vaccinated to enter Stage 5,” Caprara said.

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