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JACKSONVILLE — The state is issuing guidelines for reopening next week, more than 14 months after Gov. J.B. Pritzker first issued pandemic restrictions for the state.

Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois plan goes into effect on Friday, marking a full reopening of businesses and activities.

The Illinois Department of Public Health said the move comes as Illinois recently reached a test positivity rate of less than 2%, more than half of the population has been fully vaccinated, and key hospitalization metrics have been declining since early May.

"This pandemic has robbed us of many freedoms, such as going to ballgames and concerts, celebrating graduations, weddings and birthdays, going to dinner with friends, and even sharing a hug with loved ones we don't live with," Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike said. "The vaccine is giving us our freedoms back and allowing us to move to Phase 5."

The monthly jobs report is in.559,000 jobs were added in the month of May.The unemployment rate dipped by 0.3%, bringing that number down to 5.8%.In April, we saw hiring slow down, with just 266,000 jobs added.The increased job rate in May comes as local officials lift restrictions and businesses are going back to normal much faster than expected amid the pandemic.Notable job gains happened in the hospitality, leisure and education industries.

All sectors of the economy will be allowed to resume operations at regular capacity. It also will mark the return of traditional festivals, conventions and large events without capacity restrictions.

Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask — except where required by law. Health officials continue to recommend mask use for those who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19, and while using mass transportation, in medical settings, in schools and day care centers, and in educational institutions.

In addition, the guidance for schools was updated in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control, including lifting the requirement for students to wear masks outdoors in most situations.

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This article originally ran on pantagraph.com.

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