Pritzker hints at opening some downstate areas sooner

(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he was “keeping an eye” plans for opening downstate Illinois before the end of the stay-at-home order.

With neighboring states like Missouri and Iowa loosening restrictions this week, Pritzker plans to issue a modified stay-at-home order that runs through May 30. The governor’s latest stay-at-home order includes a number of changes that loosen restrictions on some activities.

On Wednesday, the governor offered a different tone, saying downstate areas with low numbers of COVID-19 cases may be able to open sooner.

“We are keeping an eye on those areas, but I 100 percent agree with the idea that where it is safe and there’s more distance for people and where we can open businesses that don’t force people to congregate together in larger groups than 10 at a time, then we want to do that,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker said he has received letters and calls from downstate mayors and public officials on the subject of reopening downstate economies.

“Different groups of mayors or areas have offered their plans for reopening,” he said. “Those are extremely instructive and we will be taking all those letters into consideration. So I look forward to the reopening and to their ideas and incorporating them into the phased-in plan so we can get everybody back to work and back to school.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,253 new COVID-19 cases with 92 additional deaths, with only 10 of those occurring downstate. Statewide, the agency reported a total of 50,355 cases, including 2,215 COVID-19-related deaths. Cases have been reported in 96 of the state’s 102 counties.

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