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CHICAGO — After nearly 15 months of shutdowns, limited capacity and sheltering at home, the State of Illinois, including Chicago, fully reopened on Friday.

“We are strong. We are resilient. And we are back,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at a press conference Friday.

Businesses still can have their own rules for capacity, masks and social distancing. Masks are still required on public transportation and in airports, schools and hospitals.

Lightfoot announced a gift card initiative to encourage spending and getting people back into businesses. The city partnered with Raise Marketplace and World Business Chicago to give away hundreds of gift cards. Starting Friday and running through July 4, the gift cards for $250 will be hidden at different locations each weekend the 77 neighborhoods in the city. The gift cards can be used on Raise Marketplace at more than 4,000 shops and restaurants throughout the city.   

Gov. JB Pritzker said Thursday that “as we take this next step forward, let’s do so with a renewed commitment to empathy, to community, and to making each day together count.”

State health officials say more than 68% of Illinois residents who are 18 or older have received at least one dose of vaccine against the coronavirus, and 51% of adults are fully vaccinated.

Upon entering Phase 5, fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules and regulations — including local business and workplace guidance.

Illinois will continue to recommend masking for unvaccinated persons, and require it for all people while traveling on public transportation, in congregate settings, in health care settings, as well as in schools, day cares, and educational institutions pursuant to the Illinois Department of Public Health and CDC guidance.

Businesses and local municipalities can put in place additional mitigations as they deem appropriate.

Phase 5 marks the return of traditional conventions, festivals, and large events without capacity restrictions. It also removes requirements that businesses institute mandatory social distancing in seated venues, as well as daily health screenings of employees and visitors.

Museums offering extended hours

Chicago’s largest museums will celebrate the city’s full reopening by staying open late on Friday.

The Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium will stay open until 9 p.m.

The DuSable Museum and the Museum of Science and Industry will be open until 10 p.m.

Wrigley Field opens to full capacity

The Cubs played in front of a full crowd in an 8-5 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday, with the park holding full capacity for the first time since September 2019.