The Illinois Newsroom team is answering questions from listeners to navigate this unprecedented time. Have a question you want answered? Ask here.
In today’s edition of “Ask the Newsroom,” we’ve answered questions on pools reopening during Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois Plan, and SNAP benefits for the month of June.
Please note, the information below is accurate as of June 12, 2020.
Illinois Pools Reopening
Q: When are pools expected to reopen?
New guidelines from the Illinois Department of Public Health, published June 5, allow for some use of pools during Phase 3 of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan.
Pools can now be reopened only for lap swimming, diving, swimming lessons, swim team practices and therapy pool use. Water parks and bathing beaches are not allowed to open in Phase 3.
Group sizes are limited to no more than 10 people, “allowing for social distancing where possible.” Multiple groups of up to 10 is allowed if 30 feet of distance is maintained between groups and areas for each group are clearly marked to discourage interaction between groups.
Communal gathering spaces, including waiting and viewing areas, playgrounds and clubhouses, are to remain closed.
Pool operators are to make temperature checks available for employees and customers, and also screen people for symptoms of COVID-19 upon entry to the facility. The guidelines also spell out recommendations for regular cleaning and sanitization of commonly used areas.
Everyone should practice good hand hygiene and wear face coverings when not engaged in swimming activities — with the exception of children younger than two and people with medical conditions or disabilities that prevent them from safely wearing a face covering.
The Stephens Family YMCA in Champaign announced pools will reopen for lap swimming on June 10, with additional safety protocols in place:
Locker rooms and restrooms will not be available, so people are to arrive and leave with their swim attire underneath their clothes. Swimmers will be given a designated space and a bin on the pool deck to store personal items. Additionally, water fountains will not be available, so participants are encouraged to bring a bottle of water from home.
Despite the new guidelines, some cities and local municipalities are standing by their decision to keep public pools closed for the summer.
“There are too many challenges to overcome in operating an aquatic center in the current environment,” Doug Damery, parks and recreation director of the town of Normal told WGLT.
June SNAP Benefits
Q: Are there extra SNAP benefits for the month of June due to COVID-19?
Yes, the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) will provide the maximum amount of benefits to the more than 450,000 households in Illinois that rely on food stamps.
This additional funding is intended to provide assistance to families who are experiencing financial hardship amid the coronavirus pandemic, and is provided through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020. Maximum benefits were also provided in April and May.
Those who are already enrolled in SNAP don’t need to take any additional action to receive the benefits, they’ll be provided automatically. To apply for benefits, visit the IDHS website.
Correction, June 17th, 2020: An earlier version of this article incorrectly answered the question about June SNAP benefits. New information from IDHS shows that they will, in fact, provide maximum benefits in June. Thank you to Jonathan Gottesmann for pointing out the error.