COVID-19: Illinois Transitions to the “Bridge Phase” on May 14th

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner

Governor Pritzker has announced that on Friday, May 14, 2021, the state of Illinois will enter the “Bridge Phase” of the Restore Illinois Plan, which will increase occupancy limits for many industries.  In addition, Illinoisans who can provide proof of full vaccination – defined as 14 days after receiving a final vaccine dose – or a negative COVID-19 test 1-3 days prior to an event do not count against a business’ capacity limits.

The Governor and Department of Public Health determined that the transition to the Bridge Phase was warranted based on the state reaching 70% vaccination of all residents 65 years and older, and so long as COVID-19 metrics remain stable over a 28-day monitoring period. 

New Occupancy Limits for Specific Industry Sectors


  • The changes only impact standing areas; seating area requirements have not changed.
  • 30% capacity indoors and 50% capacity outdoors (increase from 25% capacity in both areas under Phase 4)

Retail and Service Counter 

  • 60% capacity (increase from 50% capacity in Phase 4)


  • 60% capacity (increase from 50% capacity in Phase 4)

General Admission Outdoor Spectator Events 

  • 30 people per 1,000 square feet (increase from 15 people per 1,000 square feet in Phase 4)

Health and Fitness

  • 60% capacity (increase from 50% capacity in Phase 4)
  • Group classes of 50 or fewer indoors or 100 or fewer outdoors (no change from Phase 4)

Indoor Spectator Events 

  • 60% capacity (increase from a lesser of 50 people or 50% capacity in a venue that can hold less than 200 people in Phase 4)

Meetings, Conferences, and Conventions 

  • Lesser of 1,000 people or 60% capacity (increase from a lesser of 50 people or 50% capacity in a venue that can hold less than 200 people in Phase 4)

Amusement Parks

  • 60% capacity (increase from 25% capacity in Phase 4)


  • 60% capacity (increase from 25% capacity in Phase 4)

Personal Care Services 

  • 60% capacity (increase from 50% capacity in Phase 4)


  • 60% capacity (increase from 25% capacity in Phase 4)

It is important to note that additional health and safety requirements apply for any businesses that wish to remain open during this time period, so businesses should continue to check the state and local orders and regulations that apply to their industry sector.

Phase V

The State will transition to Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois Plan once 50% of residents 16 and older have been vaccinated, and stable or declining COVID-19 metrics are recorded during a 28-day monitoring period.  All regions of the state will move through the phases together based on statewide metrics, rather than following the regional approach that the State adopted earlier in the pandemic.     

There will be no capacity restrictions in Phase 5, and all large events and conventions can occur.  At this time, the transition to Phase 5 is scheduled for June 11, 2021, but the mayor of Chicago anticipates Phase 5 will happen in Chicago on July 4, 2021.

Importantly, Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a warning:  "We have all seen throughout this pandemic that this virus and its variants have proven to be unpredictable.  Metrics that look strong today are far from a guarantee of how things will look a week, two weeks, a month from now." If the health metrics decline, Illinois could revert back to Phase 4, or remain in the Bridge Phase longer than anticipated, so impacted industries should continue to monitor the health metrics to gauge the estimated timing for the State’s transition to Phase 5.


Several Illinois agencies have helpful information for businesses, including the DPH’s COVID-19 metrics tracker, and the Department of Commerce compilation of guidelines for reopening based on industry sector.

[View source.]

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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