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Illinois Relaxes Restrictions to allow Carnivals, Fairs, Festivals and Amusement Parks to Open
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Illinois Governor JB Pritzker announced a new phase for the state's mitigation plan on Thursday, a new "Bridge Phase" between Phases 4 and 5, that positively impacts events.   Illinois is currently in phase 4 of the Governor's restore Illinois Plan which places restrictions on outdoor events, gatherings, restaurants, amusement parks, and other businesses.  In phase 5 of the Governor's plan, all restrictions would be removed, and businesses would be able to open at full capacity without restrictions. 

Original gating criteria for the state to advance from phase 4 to 5 stated that “Either a vaccine is developed to prevent additional spread of COVID-19, a treatment option is readily available that ensures health care capacity is no longer a concern, or there are no new cases over a sustained period.”  Rather than advance directly from phase 4 to 5, the Governor introduced a new phase called the “Bridge Phase”, which is intended to be a transition phase from 4 to 5.  The bridge phase eases restrictions on outdoor festivals, events, and amusement parks.  

The new guidelines for the bridge phase are as follows:

  • Amusement parks
    60% capacity *

  • Festivals and general admission outdoor spectator events
    30 people per 1,000 sq. ft. *

 An important additional rule states that anyone with proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR test within one to three days of an event or outing will not count toward capacity limits, thus increasing potential  capacity at events and amusement parks.

CarnivalWarehouse estimates the 30 people per 1,000 sq. ft. rule translates to approximately 1,200 people per acre of land, plus additional capacity for those who have already been vaccinated. 

For Illinois to move from phase 4 to the new “bridge phase”, the entire state must reach a 70% first-dose vaccination rate for residents 65 years and older as well as maintain the current required metrics of at least 20% ICU beds availability and holding steady on hospitalizations for COVID-19 or COVID-like illnesses, mortality rates and case rates over a 28-day period.  It is estimated that approximately 60% of seniors 65+ have already been vaccinated. 

For the state to move from the bridge phase to phase 5, the state must reach a vaccination rate of 50% for residents 16 years old and older as well as maintain the current required metrics of at least 20% ICU beds availability and holding steady on hospitalizations for COVID-19 or COVID-like illnesses, mortality rates and case rates over a 28-day period.  On April 12, anyone aged 16 years and older will be eligible to receive the vaccine.

Also, as part of the Governor's announcement, he also relaxed restrictions on the current phase 4, allowing outdoor festivals and events to open immediately with a capacity of 15 guests per 1,000 sq. ft and amusement parks at 25% capacity.  This translates to approximately 600 people per acre.

To view the full Phase 4 & Bridge Plan from the Governor's office, click here.
 

Timing

The biggest question fair, festival, and event organizers are asking is how soon will Illinois advance to the next phase?  In an interview with NBC 5 Chicago,  a spokesperson for the governor's office said Phase 5 could come as early as May, if vaccinations continue at their current rate and cases remain steady or decline. 

"I think there's a kind of an expeditiousness if you look at these metrics that we've set and how fast things are going into people's arms," Pritzker said. "We're really headed on a very good trajectory to get to Phase 5."

This is welcome news for the fair, festival, and carnival industry in Illinois, as organizers and operators anxiously await the 2021 festival season.
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