Before getting to Phase 5 and reopening the state, we have to pass through a new Restore Illinois phase. Today, we were introduced to the 'Bridge Phase'.

Governor JB Pritzker, along with other health officials have announced how we get to Phase 5 of the 'Restore Illinois' plan. Like every other phase, getting to them is completely determined by math. And, today we got introduced to an entirely new phase.

“COVID-19 has not gone away, but the light we can see at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and brighter as more people get vaccinated. It’s time to begin to cautiously move toward normalcy, and it’s imperative that we do so in a way that maintains all the progress we’ve made to date.”

So that light, the one at the end of the 'tunnel' Gov. Pritzker just referred to in the statement above, turns out there's a surprise phase being thrown in.

Illinoisans, welcome to the BRIDGE PHASE. The Restore Illinois plan has a bridge phase to take us to the fully opened Phase 5 we all want to achieve. This bridge (or transition) phase does move us a little further along, but not a clear outline of when we get to that light at the end of the tunnel. In all honesty, how do really determine when we can fully open anyway.

To get to this 'Bridge Phase', the entire state has to reach a 70% first dose vaccination rate for residents 65 and over.

We're currently at 58%.

We also have to maintain a 20% or lower ICU bed availability rate and hold steady on COVID-19 and COVID-like illness hospital admissions, mortality rate, and case rate over a 28-day monitoring period.

Once we get to the Bridge Phase, here's what changes and moves us closer to 'normalcy.'

  • Dining areas can increase to 30% capacity indoors, and 50% capacity outdoors.
  • Health and fitness centers, offices, personal care, retail businesses, amusement parks, conventions, museums, spectator events, theaters and zoos can increase to 60% capacity.
  • Festivals and outdoor events can admit 30 people per 1,000 square feet.
  • Flea markets can have 15 people indoors per 1,000 square feet, and 30 people outdoors per 1,000 square feet.
  • Recreation centers can admit the lesser of 100 people or 50% capacity, with a maximum of 100 attendees outdoors.

Social events can expand to 250 people indoors, or 500 people outdoors.

To enter the Bridge Phase, Illinois will be measured on a 10-day monitoring period.

For more detailed information, to watch the press event, and to see how we go from the Bridge Phase to Phase 5, visit MyStateline.com.

LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.

Steve Shannon is host of The Steve Shannon Show on 97ZOK. On the air weekday mornings from 6 to 10 a.m. and a special 'Rewind' show, featuring favorite moments from previous shows, on Saturday mornings from 5 to 7 a.m.. Follow him on TwitterInstagram, and like his page on Facebook.