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GOP Lawmakers Suggest Plan For Gradually Reopening Illinois

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A man wears mask as he carries shopping bags in Skokie, Ill., Tuesday, April 21, 2020. Three more Chicago suburbs now require masks in public, bringing total to at least 11 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois House Republicans on Tuesday suggested ways to slowly reopen businesses and relax restrictions on public interaction as the threat from COVID-19 potentially recedes.

With Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order scheduled to expire April 30, GOP lawmakers are seeking relief for a devastated economy and frustrated constituents. Rep. Mark Batinick of Plainfield said he hoped their proposed modifications would get “buy-in” from the public.

They include re-opening businesses such as car dealerships, golf courses and state parks, department stores and hair salons and allowing hospitals to resume operations including screening procedures such as mammograms and colonoscopies that are weeks or months behind.

“There are no easy answers as the situation seems to change daily, but a common sense approach to re-balancing restrictions is the best step forward …,” Batinick said in a video conference with reporters. “The more we show common sense from the government, the more there’s going to be buy-in from the public.”

Such normal activities would look different. People would be required to wear face coverings and maintain the well-known 6 feet of social distance from others to discourage transmission of the illness.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe life-threatening illness, including pneumonia.

As of Monday, 33,059 Illinois residents had become infected with COVID-19, and complications of the illness had claimed 1,468 lives.

Pritzker, a Democrat, issued the stay-at-home directive March 20 to limit movement from home to commutes to jobs deemed essential or trips to the grocer or pharmacist. It came days after he emptied classrooms of students and closed nonessential businesses.

But the April 30 date, already extended once from April 7, was cast into doubt Monday when Pritzker reported that the steadily rising number of new cases reported daily would not hit its peak until mid-May, weeks after originally projected. Pritzker explained compliance with social-distancing protocol has slowed the spread of the virus.

The governor has repeatedly parried questions about the stay-home order but has strongly suggested it will be adjusted. President Donald Trump has pushed for reigniting the nation’s economy, and some states have moved aggressively toward a return to normalcy.

COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving story, and we are working hard to bring you the most up-to-date information. We recommend checking the Coronavirus Information Center for the most recent numbers and guidance.

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