UPDATE: Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that masks will no longer be required to enter restaurants, grocery stores or other indoor spaces. Additionally, the proof-of-vaccine requirement for business patrons will be lifted.

Proof-of-vaccine and mask mandates will be lifted on Feb. 28 in Chicago. All of Cook County will follow suit and also lift proof-of-vaccine and mask mandates on Feb. 28.

The vaccination requirement for businesses, which has been in effect since Jan. 3, 2022, reflects a renewed hope for normalcy as COVID-19 cases continue to fall from their previously alarming highs.

In a span of one week, the average daily case rate is down 37%, hospitalizations are down 29% and deaths are down 51%.

The moves bring Chicago in line with Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s announcement earlier this month that the state will lift mask requirements for most indoor public places at the end of February should the state’s most recent and largest COVID-19 surge continue to subside.


UPDATE: Thursday, December 23, 2021

The state of Illinois crossed several thresholds this week.

Illinois set a new record for single-day COVID cases with more than 18,000 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus reported within the last 24 hours.

The state’s daily average for new COVID cases over the last seven days has also risen to 12,573, another new record since the pandemic began.

And Illinois reported its two millionth coronavirus case since the pandemic began.

In response, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that beginning Jan. 3, Chicago will require proof of vaccination for many indoor public spaces as the city works to combat what officials are calling “the biggest COVID surge that we have seen since before vaccines were available.”

Suburban Cook County joined Chicago in requiring proof of vaccination for indoor public spaces.


Indoor entertainment and recreation venues

Including, but not limited to, movie theaters, music and concert venues, live performance venues, adult entertainment venues, commercial event and party venues, sports arenas, performing arts theaters, bowling alleys, arcades, card rooms, family entertainment centers, play areas, pool and billiard halls, and other recreational game centers.

Indoor Dining

Establishments where food or beverages are served, including, but not limited to, restaurants, bars, fast food establishments, coffee shops, tasting rooms, cafeterias, food courts, dining areas of grocery stores, breweries, wineries, distilleries, banquet halls, and hotel ballrooms

Indoor Fitness

Gyms and fitness venues, including, but not limited to, gyms, recreation facilities, fitness centers, yoga, Pilates, cycling, barre, and dance studios, hotel gyms, boxing and kickboxing gyms, fitness boot camps, and other facilities used for conducting indoor group fitness classes.




* * * *

UPDATE: Thursday, August 26, 2021

Starting this Monday, August 30th, all people 2 and older must once again wear masks when indoors in public throughout Illinois. 

Gov. JB Pritzker announced a statewide indoor mask mandate and additional COVID vaccine requirements Thursday morning.

The mask mandate will apply to gyms, restaurants, bars, grocery stores, health clubs and other indoor venues – including churches & wedding event venues.

Gov. Pritzker also hinted Wednesday that new mitigations were coming. 6 Illinois regions, 3 in Chicago area, are under threshold for available ICU beds as Illinois reports 4,451 new cases and 40 deaths.


* * * *


UPDATE: Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Starting this Friday, August 20th, all people 2 and older must once again wear masks when indoors in public.

Masks will be required for all people — including those fully vaccinated — so long as they’re 2 or older and indoors in a public place like a restaurant or gym. They can be removed when a person is actively eating or drinking at bars and restaurants.

Masks are not required when in outdoor settings.

The latest wave of coronavirus has had the deepest impact on unvaccinated people, who have made up more than 97 percent of recent hospitalizations and deaths in Chicago.

Chicago has brought back a travel advisory which now effects 39 states and three territories.

• Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate was at 5.4 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 5.3 percent Monday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 6.2 percent. It was at 6 percent Monday.

• As of Monday night, 446 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 211 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, eight deaths were reported since Monday. There have been at least 5,558 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of more than two deaths per day, a 24 percent decrease from the week prior.

• Chicago has had 425 confirmed cases reported since Monday. It’s had a total of 296,678 confirmed cases. An average of 419 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 21 percent increase from the week prior.

• At the same time, testing has increased 3 percent since a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 4.3 percent, up from 3.8 percent the week prior.


* * * *


UPDATE: Thursday, June 3, 2021

On Thursday, June 3, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Chicago will fully reopen in Phase 5 on June 11th along with the rest of Illinois.

“Because you’ve masked up, socially distanced and got vaccinated, we’re now moving to Phase 5 on Friday, June 11 in alignment with the state. This means Chicago is scheduled to fully reopen,” Lightfoot tweeted.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced last month that Illinois – currently in the Bridge Phase, which is a transitional period before a full reopening in Phase 5 – was on track to move to that final phase of the plan on June 11.

Phase 5 will remove all capacity limits and restrictions on all sectors of the economy, with “businesses, schools and recreation resuming normal operations with new safety guidance and procedures,” according to state officials.

Weddings, conventions, music festivals, and other large events will be able to resume, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Illinois could revert back to a previous phase in its reopening plan if there is a resurgence in the pandemic.

A resurgence would be measured by one of the following, measured over a 10-day monitoring period:

* * * *

UPDATE: Thursday, May 13, 2021

On Thursday, May 13, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a full expansion of the Vaccine Exemption when Chicago enters the Bridge Phase of reopening tomorrow, Friday, May 14th, allowing businesses to expand capacity for vaccinated patrons.

Indoor capacity will increase to 250 people, Outdoor: 500 people

In addition to the increased capacity that comes with the Chicago Bridge Phase, businesses will have the option of not counting fully vaccinated individuals towards COVID-19 capacity limits for all industries. Restaurants and bars will also be able to seat parties larger than ten people if all patrons are fully vaccinated.  

While this broad loosening of restrictions and the new Vaccine Exemption reflects our progress in the fight against the pandemic, we are not at the end of this crisis. As such, certain regulations will remain in place in the city of Chicago:

  • Maintain six feet of social distancing between parties
  • Wear face coverings at all times except in limited circumstances such as when patrons are actively eating or drinking
  • Dance floors will not be permitted until Illinois reaches Phase 5

Federal officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also stated today, “Americans who are fully vaccinated can go without masks or physical distancing in most cases, even when they are indoors or in large groups” paving the way for a full reopening of society.

The change represents a huge shift symbolically and practically for pandemic-weary Americans, millions of whom have lived with the restrictions for more than a year.

More than 117 million Americans are now fully vaccinated, about 35 percent of the population.

However, it should still be noted that, “the relaxation of restrictions does not apply to airplanes, buses, trains and other public transportation, to health-care settings, or where state or local restrictions still require them.” 

This is a day that I think will be marked as a true turning point in the pandemic in the United States,” said Richard Besser, former acting director of the CDC and president and chief executive of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “The idea that people who are fully vaccinated can take off their masks, can go outside, can go inside, be around people and not have to worry about covid anymore, that’s absolutely huge.”

* * * *

UPDATE: Friday, April 30, 2021

The entire state of Illinois is currently in Phase 4 of its reopening plan, with limits on how many people are allowed at social events. Those limits for indoor venues are 50% capacity of the space up to 50 people, and for outdoor venues, 50% capacity of the space up to 100 people total. Chicago and Cook County, both previously operating on their own more stringent restrictions, announced Thursday, April 29, 2021 that they would increase capacity limits on those types of events to be the same as the state’s guidelines.

While the state has since reached the vaccination metrics required to advance from Phase 4 to the Bridge Phase, increases in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have prevented the state from moving into the new phase.

Chicago officials said Thursday that if the city’s reopening metrics “remain stable or continue to decrease for the next two weeks” and the city reaches criteria set by the state, Chicago will join Illinois in moving to the Bridge Phase.

Once the state moves to the Bridge Phase, capacity limits statewide will increase to 250 for indoor events and to 500 people for outdoor events. There are no capacity limits in Phase 5.

Chicago and Cook County guidelines for event spaces in Phase 4

In Cook County, restrictions on social events and gatherings include:

  • An indoor held social event or gathering may not split the specific social event’s group into multiple rooms.
  • An outdoor held social event or gathering may not place multiple tents 30 feet apart to accommodate multiple groups of 100 people for the specific event’s group.
  • All venues must keep dance floors and spaces closed.
  • Indoor table size limited to no more than six people.
  • Outdoor table size limited to no more than 10 people

In Chicago, some of the extensive new requirements and recommendations for event spaces – largely directed to the businesses that are contracted to host these types of events – include:

  • Ensure >6 ft. between individuals and close choke points
    • Arrange tables so that seated patrons are a minimum of 6 ft apart, decommission tables, and/or add physical barriers (e.g., Plexiglass) between tables if they can’t be moved
    • Use impermeable barriers where 6 ft social distancing is not possible (e.g., event check-in counters, registers)
    • Clearly mark any area where guests queue (e.g., check-stands and terminals, bars and buffets, restrooms, etc.) with appropriate physical distancing guidance
    • Ensure stage or other designated area for performers (e.g., dancers, singers, bands) is at least 10 ft. distance from the audience
  • Limit number of guests
    • Multiple groups / events are allowed in the same venue if groups are meeting in separate rooms and not interacting (e.g., convention centers with multiple venue spaces)
    • It is recommended that guests remain primarily seated and stationery throughout the event (e.g., sitting at tables)
    • Close areas where individuals congregate in close proximity (e.g., dance floors)
    • Limit interactions between performers (e.g., dancers, singers, bands) and guests, where possible
  • Ensure protective gear worn by employee or vendors and guests
  • Implement frequent sanitization requirements of all high touch surfaces / handled items
    • Ensure vendors / performers sanitize all equipment (e.g., microphones, instruments, photobooths) before and after each use
    • Provide disposable items and equipment where possible (e.g., menus, containers, condiments, linens)

  • Clean and sanitize non-disposable items / equipment (e.g., containers, pitchers, tables, chairs, linens) after each use; note that the item has been sanitized for the next user

  • Modify workplace conditions to minimize interactions

      • All guests must be seated while eating or drinking
      • Counter / bar seating allowed if 6ft distancing can be maintained between guests (consider use of Plexiglass between guests and bartenders)
      • Require organized line if ordering from counter / bar, but wait service preferred
      • If practical, consider venue modifications to promote social distancing (e.g., moving furniture, floor marking, and/or reorienting workstations to allow workers to face away from each other)
      • Allow cafeterias, buffets, or other self-serve food stations to reopen if an employee or vendor is serving the food and wearing proper PPE
      • If practical, limit the use of beverage stations by guests
      • If practical, establish directional hallways, doors, or passageways for foot traffic
      • If practical, provide separate restroom facilities for workers and guests / third parties
      • Ensure music volume remains low so employee or vendors and guests can practice social distancing while talking (e.g., taking orders)
      • If practical, encourage cashless/contactless ordering and payment (e.g., for “cash” bars)

In Chicago, events where this new guidance applies must be held at a licensed business, cannot be open to the public and guests must RSVP prior to the event, city officials said. The city’s website also says events where vaccinated individuals don’t count toward capacity limits must take place at designated event venues, noting, “i.e., a restaurant cannot rent out their regular restaurant space for an event.”

Business owners will be responsible for verifying that exempted guests are fully vaccinated and keep records, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office said, adding that the city “will consider expanding this exemption to other industries in the coming weeks, provided that our COVID-19 metrics continue to improve.”

The business who holds the license is ultimately the entity who holds the responsibility of enforcement of guidelines (i.e. Venue, Caterer, Event Coordinator).

Businesses are responsible for managing their capacity and admission procedures within the venue to establish a protocol and system to verify proof of a vaccination plus 14 days or a negative COVID-19 test. Businesses should evaluate privacy concerns to implement a reliable method to manage proof of vaccinations or negative COVID-19 test. If a venue is being utilized by a company for an event, the event host is responsible for compliance. 

If businesses opt to establish a system of checking proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to permit greater capacity, businesses should evaluate all applicable data privacy laws for retention of the information. Businesses are not required to ask all patrons of proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test if they wish to remain within Restore Illinois Phase 4 and Bridge Phase limits. 

* * * *

UPDATE: Thursday, March 18, 2021

As more of our residents receive the COVID-19 vaccine, Illinois will operate with a metrics-based pathway toward the fifth and final phase of the Restore Illinois reopening plan, in which all sectors of the economy reopen with businesses and recreation resuming normal operations, and where conventions, festivals, and large events can take place.

Following recommendations from public health experts, Illinois will move forward with a dial-like approach between the mitigations in Phase 4, which currently apply to the entire state, and the post-pandemic new normal of Phase 5. This Bridge to Phase 5 will allow for higher capacity limits and increased business operations, before public health experts tell us it is safe to move to the new normal that Phase 5 will bring. Like the prior evidenced-based approaches to deliberately lift mitigations that have kept us safe and saved lives, this gradual path to Phase 5 will protect the progress we’ve made while allowing us to reopen the economy.

Once 70% of residents 65 and older have been vaccinated and barring any reversals in our COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths for a 28-day monitoring period, the Bridge to Phase 5 will begin with increased capacity limits in both indoor and outdoor settings. 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, Phase 5 will be implemented, removing capacity limits altogether. All regions of the state will move through these next phases together based on statewide metrics.



Chicago public health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwad said, “The process of vaccinating the upcoming group is expected to take at least two months and will likely see some of the same scramble for limited appointments that Chicagoans in the previous stages have weathered.”

While regulations are rolled back gradually, Illinoisans should continue following the public health guidelines that have kept us safe during the pandemic, like wearing a mask in public and social distancing.

Additionally, this updated guidance establishes new capacity limits for settings determined by risk level. In an update to current Phase 4 mitigations, individuals with proof of full vaccination — defined as 14 days after receiving a final vaccine dose — or a negative COVID-19 test (PCR) 1-3 days prior to an event do not count against capacity limits. Following the latest studies on virus transmission, lower risk activities that were either not permitted or allowed at a lower capacity have been expanded in Phase 4.


Vaccination Metrics: Once 70% of residents 65 and older statewide have received their first dose of the vaccine and no increase in COVID-19 metrics is recorded, the state could move into the Bridge Phase. Once 50% of residents 16 and older have received their first dose of the vaccine and no increase in COVID-19 metrics is recorded, the state could move into Phase 5.

COVID-19 Metrics: The state could advance if there is a non-increasing trend in hospital admissions for COVID-19 like illness, COVID-19 patients in the hospital and mortality rate while ICU bed availability must remain greater than or equal to 20%. The state will consider new knowledge of variants, vaccine effectiveness and the potential necessity of a booster shot as we move forward.

Monitoring Period: COVID-19 metrics will be considered over a 28-day monitoring period before the state can advance to the next phase. The current monitoring period began when all regions of the state moved into Phase 4.


The state could revert to a previous phase if there is a resurgence of the virus, measured by an increasing trend in our case rate and one of the following:

– Hospital admissions for COVID-19 like illness trend increasing and above 150 daily average
– COVID-19 patients in the hospital trend increasing and above 750 daily census
– Mortality rate trend increasing and above 0.1 daily average
– ICU bed availability < 20%

Metrics will be measured over a 10-day monitoring period.

* * * *

UPDATE: Friday, January 29, 2021

Chicago has continued to make significant progress in the fight against the COVID-19 virus in recent weeks and months. Based on our progress, we anticipate that Chicago will meet the metrics set by the State of Illinois to move out of Tier One Mitigation Measures and into Phase Four in the near future. However, Chicago remains in the midst of the pandemic, with cases, hospitalizations and deaths higher than before the second surge. According to data from the Chicago Department of Public Health, Chicago is seeing an average of 660 new cases and 11 deaths per day, far higher than what we experienced during the summer.
Additionally, while we were very excited for and welcomed the move to Tier One Mitigation Measures last weekend, it has been less than one week since indoor dining returned in Chicago. It is standard public health practice to monitor the impact of any significant mitigation change for a minimum of two weeks (one incubation period) before considering further loosening of restrictions. Limited indoor dining just returned to Chicago less than one week ago, and while numbers continue to decline, a hurried return to greater indoor capacity would bring serious risk of reversing the progress we have made.
Therefore, in order to avoid reversing the progress that the city has made in recent weeks, a number of additional regulations will remain in place in Chicago when we move to Phase Four. Some restrictions will be eased, such as the prohibition of bar seating and the non-essential business curfew, but most of the capacity regulations will remain in place. You can find the overview of what Phase Four regulations will look like in Chicago below.
Under the state-imposed Resurgence Plan, Chicago currently remains under Tier One Mitigation Measures. These measures will stay in place until Chicago moves to Phase Four, which will be possible when the case rate drops to less than or equal to 6.5% for three consecutive days – today, our case rate is 6.4% according to IDPH data, the first day under the 6.5% threshold. When Chicago enters Phase Four, the following regulations will be in place:
Restaurants and Bars
  • Indoor capacity will remain restricted to the lesser of 25% or 25 people per space.
  • Food must be available at all times in order to offer indoor service. This means that bars, taverns or breweries without a food license can reopen indoors as long as they partner with a food establishment so that food is available to patrons at all times (e.g., making menus available and allowing delivery, allowing patrons to order from third-party delivery services).
  • Maximum of six patrons at indoor or outdoor tables
  • Patrons can sit at bars, with six feet of social distancing between parties
  • Face coverings must be worn at all times, except when patrons are seated and actively eating or drinking
  • Patrons must be seated whenever they are eating or drinking
  • Tables must be six feet apart
  • Reservations are encouraged
  • Two-hour time limit no longer required
  • On-site service must end at 12am
  • The sale of alcohol must end at 11pm, including alcohol sold for on-site consumption, delivery or carry out
Event Venues
  • Indoor capacity will remain restricted to the lesser of 25% or 25 people per space.
  • Indoor events will be able to serve food or drinks, but indoor service guidelines must be followed:
  • Face coverings must be worn at all times, except when patrons are seated and actively eating or drinking
  • Six people per table
  • Patrons must be seated whenever they are eating or drinking
  • Tables must be six feet apart
  • Alcohol service must end at 11pm, and patrons must be off-premises by 12am
We will provide an update once we official move to Phase Four, which may happen as soon as this Sunday. At that time, details on the full regulations will be posted at We will also be hosting webinars in the coming days- stay tuned for more information! To track Chicago’s progress and for more details on the state-imposed mitigation measures, visit IDPH’s website here. More information will be shared once Chicago officially reaches Phase Four, including details on the progress that will be necessary for further loosening of restrictions.
As a reminder, now is the time to remain diligent and double down on what works to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to keep our businesses open. BACP will continue to enforce the new regulations, particularly the rules for limited indoor service at bars and restaurants. As a reminder, please continue to wear face coverings, maintain social distancing, avoid gatherings and follow the regulations closely. Thank you for your ongoing commitment to follow the COVID-19 regulations and help Chicago continue to move forward in the fight against this deadly virus. 

UPDATE: Monday, January 25, 2021

All Illinois regions have moved into Phase 4 mitigations.

Phase 4 permits  social events to take place again, with a maximum of 50 people or 50% of room capacity. Multiple groups can use the same facility if they are socially distanced and in separate rooms.



* * * *

UPDATE: Monday, January 18, 2021

Illinois has determined that Chicago has made significant enough progress as a region to move into Tier 2 mitigation measures.

Illinois health officials announced that due to a change in staffing contracts, which increases hospital staffing across the state, several regions could leave their previous tiers.
Region 8, 9, 10 and 11, including Kane, DuPage, McHenry, Lake and suburban Cook counties, along with Chicago, are permitted to move into Tier 2 mitigations.
Under the newly approved Tier 2 mitigation measures that regulate Chicago:
Wedding & Event Venues
  • Indoor and outdoor events can resume with no more than 10 guests if food is served and only in locations that are designated for private events only (i.e. banquet facilities within restaurants)
  • Face coverings must be worn at all times except when actively eating and drinking
  • Tables must be six feet apart; no more than six people per table
Chicago was able to move to Tier 2 Mitigation Measures because the State of Illinois has removed the requirement that regions have greater than 20% capacity in medical/surgical beds.
In order to move to Tier 1 Mitigation Measures, which would allow limited indoor dining at 25% capacity and no more than 25 people, Chicago will need to meet the following criteria:

A.) Test positivity rate between 6.5 and 8% for three consecutive days as measured by the 7-day rolling average; AND

B.) Greater than 20% percent available staffed ICU hospital beds for three consecutive days, on a 7-day rolling average; AND

C.) No sustained increase in the number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital in 7 out of the last 10 days, on a 7-day average

For more info:


* * * *

UPDATE: Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Today, Gov. JB Pritzker has extended the mask mandate for the state of Illinois for an additional 150 days until June 3, 2021 as the state nears 1 million cases of COVID-19.

The original mask mandate established through an emergency rule to the Control of Communicable Disease Code expired Sunday, Jan. 3.  However, a subsequent emergency rule was filed Jan. 4 and is in effect for 150 days.

Pritzker’s emergency rule also continues to limit public gatherings to fewer than 50 people in a single space until a minimum of June 3, 2021.

In accordance with the Restore Illinois Resurgence Mitigation, Illinois remains currently under Tier 3 Mitigations which limits indoor gatherings of more than one household, restricts gatherings of no more than 10 people  permitted only outdoors despite it being winter in Illinois. Indoor photography of any kind is currently not permitted under Tier 3 Mitigation. 

Tier 3 Resurgence mitigations:

  • Indoor gatherings of more than one household are prohibited.
  • Outdoor gatherings are limited to no more than ten people.
  • Outdoor photography is only permissible with groups up to 10 people
  • Indoor photography of any kind is not permitted operate under Tier 3

IDPH is currently reporting a total of 999,288 total cases which includes 17,096 deaths. In addition, the IDPH announced 7,569 new cases of COVID-19 and 139 additional deaths today. Currently 812 Illinois patients are in the ICU and 451 patients with COVID-19 are on ventilators.

The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of the total test from Dec. 30- Jan. 5 is 8.4% and the preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity from Dec. 30- Jan. 5 is 9.9%.


* * * *

UPDATE: Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Today, Health officials in Grant County, Washington, have confirmed that a November wedding that broke public health mandates is responsible for the deaths of seven nursing home residents in two separate facilities. The wedding, which had more than 300 attendees, resulted in at least 30 coronavirus cases. The 300-person was held on November 7 at a private location in the rural town of Ritzville. The event violated state health guidelines by exceeding guest capacity by over 10 times the mandated limit of no more than 30 guests.

Last week the Hilton Chicago/Northbrook crowded up to 300 guests into a ballroom to attend a wedding on the same day Illinois hit the grim milestone of 238 deaths in one day – the most since the start of the pandemic – while nationwide, the death toll also reached a record for a single day.  It was estimated that there were nearly 300 guests in attendance despite the state of Illinois putting limits on indoor dining and special events such as weddings. 

In accordance with the Restore Illinois Resurgence Mitigation FAQ:

Under the Tier 3 Resurgence mitigations:

  • Indoor gatherings of more than one household are prohibited.
  • Outdoor gatherings are limited to no more than ten people.
  • Outdoor photography is only permissible with groups up to 10 people
  • Indoor photography of any kind is not permitted operate under Tier 3

A Cincinnati-area wedding in October wedding resulted in over 1/3 of wedding guests testing positive for COVID-19 . There were 83 guests in attendance and despite masks being encouraged and provided, guests refused to wear them or socially distance. Subsequently, more than 30 wedding guests contracted COVID-19 and spread the virus onto countless unsuspecting others following the Fall wedding.

During an October 2020 wedding in Long Island which hosted 91 guests despite a state-mandated 50 person limit, over half the guests in attendance – more than 30 people – tested positive for COVID-19 and 160 more were forced to quarantine due to contact.

7 deaths and 177 COVID-19 infections have been traced back to an August wedding held at the Big Moose Inn in Millinocket, Maine.

57-year old retiree, Jo Ellen Chism, who attended her stepson’s Texas wedding on June 20th reluctantly contracted COVID-19, in addition to with 12 other guests. Her symptoms started four days following the wedding with a runny nose, sore throat and bad headache. Two days later she tested positive for coronavirus along with the groom’s 76-year-old grandfather (who suffered double pneumonia), her 10-year-old grandson and 12 other guest. She said 13 additional guests had symptoms but didn’t get tested.

Surrounding Illinois, Vanderburgh County, Indiana has seen a similar situation as has Sauk County, Wisconsin this year.

These examples are just a small sample of weddings that have made national news for violating health mandates which resulted in senseless deaths this year. 


* * * *

UPDATE: Friday, December 4, 2020

Today I was interviewed about wedding photography and COVID-19 health mandates by NBC5 News Chicago.  The story premiered in response to another breaking news story about a wedding which took place on Wednesday, December 2, 2020 at the Hilton Chicago/Northbrook and hosted nearly 300 guests not wearing masks nor practicing social-distancing.

My interview was originally broadcast the afternoon of Thursday, December 3, 2020 and then rebroadcast at 5pm, 6pm, 10pm and again on the morning of Friday, December 4, 2020on the 6:00am news.

I was also interviewed by the popular photography industry website, PetaPixel, which boasts over half a million social media followers, for their  feature titled, Great Reads in Photography.




UPDATE: Sunday, November 29, 2020

Tier 3 mitigation prohibits indoor photography including portrait sessions, weddings and other special events.

Effective November 29, 2020, all regions in the State will operate under the new mitigation requirements to combat the surge of COVID-19 across Illinois. IDPH will continue to track the positivity rates and hospital capacity metrics in regions over a 14-day monitoring period to determine if mitigations can be relaxed, if additional mitigations are required, or if current mitigation should remain in place.

What about photography studios?

• Outdoor photography is permissible with groups up to 10 people
• Indoor photography should not operate at this time


* * * *

UPDATE: Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Governor JB Pritzker announced new COVID-19 restrictions as public health officials reported over 12,600 new COVID-19 confirmed cases.

The total number of cases in Illinois now stands at 597,849, with a total of 10,875 deaths.

Tier 3 restrictions aim to limit gatherings and encourage residents to stay home to stop the spread of coronavirus.

“Tier 3 boils down to this: if you don’t need to do it, don’t,” Pritzker said.

The entire state enters Tier 3 mitigation Friday at 12:01 a.m.

 Tier 3 restrictions close banquet halls and event spaces, gaming and casinos, theaters, cultural institutions like museums, prohibit indoor fitness classes, and call on all workplaces to have as many employees work from home as possible.


* * * *

UPDATE: Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Several Illinois regions will be subject to even stricter coronavirus mitigations taking effect on Wednesday, November 11, 2020 as metrics continue rising across the entire state.

Regions 5, 7 and 8, which include Will, Kankakee, Kane and DuPage counties in Illinois, as well as the southern part of the state, entered Tier 2 mitigations as announced by Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday, November 9, 2020. Regions 10 & 11, which includes all of Cook County and Chicago, are expected to fall under similar measures in the coming days ahead.

Tier 2 reduces table sizes for restaurants and bars to a maximum of six, among other restrictions for recreational and social events such as weddings which limits capacity to 10 or less guests.

The restrictions come as some healthcare regions in the state have seen more than triple the number of coronavirus hospitalizations than they did during the first wave of the virus earlier this Spring.

The state isn’t issuing an official “Stay at Home” or “Shelter in Place” order but it is asking everyone to work from home and stay home unless you have to do something essential, like grocery shop, over the next three weeks until the beginning of December.

To slow the spread, for the next three weeks, all Illinoisans should work from home if possible; stay at home as much as possible, leaving only for “necessary and essential activities,” like grocery shopping; and limit all travel and gatherings, even small ones, Illinois Department of Public Health officials recommended in a Wednesday news release.

Illinois reported 12,657 confirmed cases in the past day, a new record. That’s the 12th time in the past 27 days Illinois has broken a record for new Covid-19 cases in a single day. That brings the total of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 523,840.

As of Tuesday, November 10, 2020, there were 5,042 people hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois which includes nearly 1,000 people currently in the ICU and over 400 on ventilators.

– – – 

How will the latest Covid-19 Coronavirus affect my wedding plans?

The maximum indoor/outdoor gathering size is limited to only ten (10) guests including the married couple.

All Illinois residents should stay in their home as much as possible, leaving only for necessary and essential activities.

* * * *

UPDATE: Monday, October 26, 2020

State public health officials announced new restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus that will take effect starting Wednesday in suburban Cook County. Indoor service at bars and restaurants will be forbidden, establishments must close at 11 p.m., and gatherings, such as weddings and special events, will be limited to a maximum of 25 people.

It marks the first time the additional mitigation measures will be applied to the Cook County suburbs. Similar restrictions are already in place in Regions 7 and 8, including DuPage, Kane, Kankakee and Will counties., which joined Regions 1 and 5 on Friday, October 23rd.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the Metro East region’s new mitigation measures were triggered when its positivity rate again rose above the 8 percent mark, while suburban Cook County’s was set off by a combination of 10 days of rapidly rising hospitalization rates and positivity increases.

“Over the weekend, two more regions — Region 4, Metro East, as well as Region 10, Suburban Cook County — triggered our metrics for additional mitigations, meaning that, starting Wednesday, 6 of our 11 regions will be operating under our resurgence framework,” Pritzker said.

As of Wednesday, roughly half of the state’s population will be living under the tighter restrictions. A week ago, only one of the 11 regions in Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s reopening plan was subject to those rules.

As of yesterday, Sunday, October 25th, the share of positive coronavirus tests statewide was 6.3% on a seven-day average, up from 5.4% a week earlier and 3.5% at the beginning of October.


* * * *

UPDATE: Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Gov. JB Pritzker announced a return to Phase 3 restrictions in some Chicago suburbs as Illinois sees a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases.

Suburban Kane, DuPage, Will and Kankakee counties will return to “heightened resurgence mitigations” this Friday, October 23rd which means no indoor dining or bar service and much smaller limits on social gatherings including pandemic restrictions limiting weddings and other social events to 25 or fewer guests.

“Starting Friday, there will be no indoor service at bars or restaurants and all bars, restaurants and casinos must close by 11 p.m. Additionally, all gatherings will be limited to 25 people or 25% capacity, whichever is lesser. The restrictions will remain in place for at least the next 14 days”, Pritzker said.

Illinois public health officials announced 3,714 new cases of COVID-19, along with 41 additional deaths. The total number of COVID-19 cases in Illinois now stands at 350,875, with 9,277 deaths, the IDPH reported. Over a 24-hour period, officials said the state processed 59,077 specimens for a total of 6,883,314. The seven-day positivity rate from October 13 – October 18 is 5.5%. It is the 14th consecutive day the positivity rate has increased.

As of Monday night, 2,261 people were hospitalized in Illinois with COVID-19, with 489 in the ICU and 195 on ventilators.

New COVID numbers from Kankakee, Kane, Will and DuPage County show at least eight in every 100 people tested has the virus.

Governor Pritzker cautioned residents that if that rate does not drop, more restrictions could come.

The rollback was triggered when the four counties that make up Regions 7 and 8 reported rolling test positivity rates of higher than 8% for the third day in a row, Pritzker said.

Those restrictions are already in place in Region 1, which covers northwestern Illinois in addition to Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside and Winnebago counties. Region 5, which covers southern Illinois, will start imposing new COVID-19 restrictions on Thursday.

Vaccine scientists have begun warning that the next few months could be the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, as cases rise in more than half of US states.

Last Friday, the US also saw its highest number of daily cases across the country since 71,000 were recorded on 29 July, as 69,100 positive tests were reported.

On Sunday, 12 states recorded their highest seven-day average of Covid-19 cases, while 14 states have reported peak hospitalization numbers in the last week.


* * * *

UPDATE: Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Gov. JB Pritzker announced a return to Phase 3 restrictions in some Chicago suburbs as Illinois sees a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases.
Region 1 has moved to the lesser of 25 or 25% capacity for weddings & special events effective this Saturday, October 3rd.
Region 1 includes Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside and Winnebago counties.
Under the new pandemic restrictions, weddings and other social events will be limited to 25 or fewer guests, or 25% of overall room capacity.
Party buses will also be banned under new provisions of the rules.

In order to move back to Phase 4 restrictions, the region will be required to average a positivity rate of 6.5% or less for three straight days. New mitigation rules have been put in place after the region, located in northwest Illinois, saw its seven-day rolling positivity rate exceed 8% for more than three consecutive days.
* * * *

UPDATE: Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity updated their RESTORE ILLINOIS PHASE 4 – RECOVERY – FAQ FOR BUSINESSES on Wednesday, August 12th, 2020.

Q. Are weddings permissible in Phase 4? If so, is there a capacity restriction?

Weddings are permissible under the meeting and special event guidelines.

Wedding capacity is limited to the lesser of 50 people or 50% of the room capacity, excluding venue staff and vendors.

A venue with multiple rooms may NOT split one wedding party in to multiple rooms.

Outdoor weddings are limited to 50 people.

An outdoor wedding venue may not place multiple tents 30 feet apart to accommodate multiple groups of 50 for one wedding.

Dance floors should remain closed.

Standing area capacity of restaurants or bars may operate at maximum of 25% of standing area capacity. If standing area does not have a designated capacity limit, establishments may allow up to 15 people per 1,000 square feet.


* * * *

UPDATE: Monday, July 20, 2020

On Monday, July 20, 2020 the city of Chicago began averaging 233 daily COVID-19 cases and the positivity rate sits at 5.1%, according to the city’s health department. 

“Right now we are on the precipice. We are dangerously close to going back to a dangerous state of conditions,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said during a news conference last week.

Chicago’s top public health official had warned that roll backs were possible if the city reached an average daily case rate above 200. Subsequently the city has imposed new restrictions which may continue to impact your wedding plans in Chicago:

  • Personal services such as hair and makeup appointments requiring the removal of face coverings will no longer be permitted.
  • Maximum party size and table occupancy at restaurants will be reduced to six people.  
  • Continue to wear face covering and physically distance.
  • Continue to distance and allow vulnerable residents to shelter

The restrictions will go into effect beginning this Friday, July 24th at 12:01 AM.


* * * *

UPDATE: Friday, June 19, 2020

On Friday, June 19, 2020 Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that restaurants, bars and breweries may all open, but with restrictions, as has been the case with outdoor dining. The move will align with Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s moving the state into PHASE FOUR of the Illinois reopening plan.


• Additional business and capacity restrictions are lifted with appropriate safeguards
• Additional public amenities open
• Continue to wear face covering and physically distance
• Continue to distance and allow vulnerable residents to shelter

Restaurants will be restricted to 25% capacity, with a maximum of 50 people per room or floor, and tables must be at least 6 feet apart, with 10 people or fewer per table.

Venues without a Retail Food Establishment License will be limited to a maximum of two hours per party and alcohol sales at bars and restaurants must still end at 11 p.m. each night. The sale of alcohol for carryout or delivery must end at 9 p.m. each night.

Phase 5, which includes high density venues such as weddings hosting more than 50 guests,  will not begin until there is a vaccine which isn’t anticipated until 2021.


* * * *

UPDATE: Friday, May 8, 2020

On Friday, May 8, 2020 Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a 5 stage plan to reopen Chicago. 

Lightfoot’s plan includes five phases, similar to the roadmap unveiled by Illinois’ Governor J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday, May 5, 2020. The Chicago phases include the following: strict stay-at-home, stay-at-home, cautiously reopen, gradually resume and protect.

Here’s a look at the 5 stage plan to reopen the City of Chicago. 


– Limit the amount of contact with others; goal is to limit interactions to rapidly slow the spread of COVID-19

• Essential workers go to work; everyone else works from home
• Stay at home and limit going out to essential activities only
• Physically distance from anyone you do not live with, especially vulnerable friends and family

Chicago is currently in Phase Two as of today, Friday, May 8, 2020

– Guard against unsafe interactions with others; goal is to
continue flattening the curve while safely being outside

• Essential workers go to work; everyone else works from home
• Stay at home as much as possible
• Wear a face covering while outside your home
• Physically distance from anyone you do not live with, especially vulnerable friends and family


– Strict physical distancing with some businesses
opening; goal is to thoughtfully begin to reopen Chicago safely

• Non-essential workers begin to return to work in a phased way
• Select businesses, non-profits, city entities open with demonstrated, appropriate protections for workers and customers
• When meeting others, physically distance and wear a face covering
• Non-business, social gatherings limited to <10 persons
• Phased, limited public amenities begin to open
• Stay at home if you feel ill or have come into contact with someone with COVID-19
• Continue to physically distance from vulnerable populations
• Get tested if you have symptoms


– Continued staggered reopening into a new normal; goal is to further reopen Chicago while ensuring the safety of residents

• Additional business and capacity restrictions are lifted with appropriate safeguards
• Additional public amenities open
• Continue to wear face covering and physically distance
• Continue to distance and allow vulnerable residents to shelter
• Get tested if you have symptoms or think you have had COVID-19


– Continue to protect vulnerable populations; goal is to continue to maintain safety until COVID-19 is contained

• All businesses open
• Non-vulnerable individuals can resume working
• Most activities resume with health safety in place
• Some events can resume
• Set up screenings and tests at work or with your family
• Sign up for a vaccine on the COVID Coach web portal

What needs to happen to move through each Phase?

“The epidemiological criteria for transitioning between phases are rooted in public health guidance and will be reviewed and revisited on an ongoing basis,” the mayor’s office said in a release. “Health-based metrics are one of the many considerations that the city is weighing to determine the details of the city’s reopening approach and sequencing.”

Lightfoot said the city is using these four questions to determine when to move to the next phase:

  1. Is the rate of disease spread across the city and surrounding counties decreasing?
  2. Does the city have the testing and contact-tracing capacity to track the disease and
    limit spread?
  3. Are there enough support systems in place for vulnerable residents?
  4. Can the healthcare system handle a potential future surge (including beds,
    ventilators and PPE)?

“While our goal is to get as many people back to work as quickly and safely as possible, we will keep data and science as the north stars of this work, as we have throughout the COVID- 19 pandemic,” Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement. “We also recognize that some populations and families are suffering more than others in this crisis, and we are taking that into consideration as we prepare for reopening as well.”

Requirements to get to Phase Three:

A set of epidemiological factors has been established to guide the next transition from phase two (Stay-at-Home) to phase three (Cautiously Reopen), including:

• COVID-19 Case Rate (over 14 days, as a rolling average):
– Declining rate of new cases, based on incidence and/or percent positivity
• Severe Outcome Rate (over 14 days, as a rolling average):
– Stable or declining rates of cases resulting in hospitalization, ICU admission, and/or death
• Hospital Capacity Citywide (over 14 days, as a rolling average):
– Hospital beds: <1800 COVID patients
– ICU beds: <600 COVID patients
– Ventilators: <450 COVID patients
• Testing Capacity:
– Test at least 5% of Chicago residents per month
• Testing Percent Positivity Rates (over 14 days, as a rolling average):
– Congregate: <30% positive tests
– Community: <15% positive tests
• Syndromic Surveillance (over 14 days, as a rolling average):
– Declining emergency department visits for influenza-like illness and/or COVID-like illness
• Case Investigation & Contact Tracing:
– Expanded system in place for congregate and community investigations and contact tracing


* * * *

UPDATE: Tuesday, May 5, 2020

On Tuesday, May 5, 2020, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced a 5 phased plan to reopen Illinois.
He listed criteria that each region must achieve for 28 days of a trending average in order to move to the next phase.
We are currently in Phase 2 of the 5 stage plan.


Hospitalization and Positivity Rates – meaning the percentage of positive tests – in each region must be downward trending and hospitals must maintain a minimum of 14% of COVID-19 capacity for 28 days in order to move to Phase 3.
By these restrictions, Chicago will be unable to move into Phase 3 until Mid-July or beyond.
Phase 3 includes events limited to 10 people total.
These 10 people must also include vendors (photo, video, venue staff, officiant, catering staff, etc.) in addition to the Bride & Groom, parents, immediate family & wedding party.
Phase 4 includes events hosting less than 50 total guests.
Phase 5, which includes high density venues such as weddings hosting more than 50 guests, along with sports and music venues, will not begin until we have a vaccine which isn’t anticipated until 2021
Jason Kaczorowski Photography is advising our clients to consider 3 plans:
Plan 1 :: 10 Guests or less
Plan 2 :: 50 Guests or less
Plan 3 :: Postpone beyond 2020 if you wish to host more than 50 guests
Please keep in mind that your total guest count must include photo, video, officiant and all necessary venue staff.

Discover more at:


* * * *

UPDATE: Wednesday, April 29, 2020

In accordance with Illinois State Representative, Ann Williams, along with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity:

“Photographers may still operate under strict limited conditions.

Outdoor photography IS permitted so long as social distancing requirements are followed.

Indoor photography IS NOT permitted.

Gatherings, such as weddings, MUST BE limited to fewer than 10 total people which includes an officiant, photographer, wedding couple, along with any additional family, friends and/or guests.

If you have questions or concerns about whether a business is “essential” under the Stay at Home order, you may contact the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s COVID- 19 hotline at 1-800-252-2923 or e-mail”


* * * 

UPDATE: Friday, April 24, 2020

In accordance with Illinois State Governor J.B. Pritzker’s mandate, and with an abundance of caution for health and well-being of our clients, our team and the general population, we will be unable to offer event photography, portrait photography and in-studio meetings until, at a minimum, the expiration of the state’s stay-at-home executive order which has been mandated until Monday, June 1, 2020.

Data shows that if the state were to lift mitigation abruptly, it would result in a second wave of infections, hospitalizations and deaths. 

Lifting mitigation measures are only possible with widespread availability and access to COVID-19 testing, tracing and treatment. Until widespread testing, tracing and treatment is possible, we support our state’s efforts to continue to reduce the curve of the spread of the virus by encouraging social distancing.

We pray you and your loved ones are safe and healthy and we can’t wait for the day when we have the opportunity to see you again in person soon.


* * * *

UPDATE: Thursday, April 23, 2020

Based on data from scientists and health experts and after consulting with stakeholders across the state, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced a modified version of the state’s stay-at-home executive order which was initially ordered for Illinois residents on Friday, March 20 and was set to expire Thursday, April 30, 2020. The new state mandate will go into effect on May 1, 2020.

The modified order will strengthen the state’s social distancing requirements while allowing residents additional flexibility and provide measured relief to non-essential businesses in the safest way possible.

Beginning on May 1, individuals will be required to wear a face-covering or a mask when in a public place where they can’t maintain a six-foot social distance. Face-coverings will be required in public indoor spaces, such as stores. This new requirement applies to all individuals over the age of two who are able to medically tolerate a face-covering or a mask.


* * * *

PUBLISHED: Friday, March 13, 2020

Can we address the elephant in the room? The Contagious Wedding Crasher known as the COVID-19 Coronovirus Pandemic

Before I share with you what we are doing to address the pandemic, please allow me to take a moment to share with you an optimistic thought: Throughout history, society has always risen to meet whatever challenges life has thrown our way and we have always emerged stronger in the end.

Remember: Be mindful. Be positive. Be kind. Be the reason someone smiles. Be the reason someone feels loved and believes in the goodness in other people.

I know that many of you may be feeling very uncertain about how this will play out in the coming months and worried about how this may affect your wedding plans.

I am with you and I fully understand.

It’s hard to know how this is going to play out and how long it is going to last.

First and foremost, I want to assure you that as your wedding photographers, my team and I care very deeply about the health of you and your loved ones. We are taking every precaution we can to keep ourselves healthy for your wedding day.

With schools shutting down, concerts and festivals cancelling, some states starting to ban large gatherings, college basketball, the NBA, MLB and NFL suspending or rescheduling their seasons, and travel being discouraged throughout the country, we understand that some of you may choose to postpone your wedding day to a later date when you wouldn’t need to worry about you or your guests’ health and travel plans.


I understand the financial burden of rescheduling a wedding day – particularly if your wedding is within the next couple months. Because of this, I am expanding my rescheduling policy to make it more flexible during this pandemic and help ease stress related to this for all of our clients.

If you choose to reschedule because of COVID-19, please let us know as soon as possible so we can provide you with a list of available dates in 2020, 2021 and 2022. We have limited Saturday 2020 availability however Fridays, Sundays and Weekdays are often available, in addition to added availability in 2021 and 2022, so please do not worry about losing us as your photographers.

My goal is to help make postponing your wedding as easy and stress-free as possible for you if this is the route you choose to take.


While I urge all of my clients to follow the advice of your state and county regarding large gatherings during the time of your event, I understand that some events may not be possible to cancel.

In this situation, if the virus is still spreading throughout the community during the time of your wedding, I will take precautions in order to protect myself, as well as you, your loved ones, in addition to our clients weddings planned for the weekends proceeding your date.


• Our team will wear protective masks throughout the day of your wedding. Because of the nature of COVID-19, we want to protect you and your guests on the off chance that I or a member of my team could be carrying the virus while asymptomatic.

• We will be sanitizing our equipment throughout the day, as well as taking frequent breaks to wash our hands in between your timeline of events.

• During the dancing portion of your reception, we will be photographing from the perimeter of your dance floor, utilizing a longer focal length, in order to keep a safe distance from people who may be coughing, sneezing, and/or sweating.

• If I or a member of my team becomes ill and/or we are forced to quarantine ourselves, I will allocate an equally talented photographer to capture your day during any unexpected absence. Jason Kaczorowski Photography is fortunate to have multiple incredibly talented photographers on our team should the need arise to quarantine oneself from your event.

Naturally, we also kindly ask that you request for any guests who are feeling ill or may have been exposed to COVID-19 to stay home.




Illinois started its COVID-19 mitigation efforts with a 5 Phase approach.

Phase 1 meant a total shutdown of society whereas Phase 5 meant we were living in a post-pandemic world.

Illinois made it to Phase 4 before a resurgence in the Fall of 2020.

Instead of returning to Phase 3, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker introduced Tiered Mitigations: Tier 3 being the most restrictive and Tier 1 being the least.

Think of Tiers like taking the scenic route through Phases.

Tier 3 

Mitigation – No gatherings (Weddings & Events) in meeting rooms, banquet halls, party rooms, private clubs, etc.

Tier 2

Mitigation – Limits weddings and events to 10 guests indoors and outdoors

Tier 1

Mitigation – Limits weddings and events to lesser of 25 guests or 25% overall capacity indoors and outdoors

Phase 4

Mitigation – Limits gatherings of 50 people or fewer (subject to change based on latest data and guidance)

Bridge Phase

Once 70% of residents 65 and older have been vaccinated, and barring any reversals in our COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths for a 28-day monitoring period, the Bridge to Phase 5 will begin with increased capacity limits in both indoor and outdoor settings. 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, Phase 5 will be implemented, removing capacity limits altogether. All regions of the state will move through these next phases together based on statewide metrics.

Mitigation – Limits gatherings of 250 people indoors and 500 people outdoors

Phase 5

Mitigation – All sectors of the economy reopen with businesses, schools, and recreation resuming normal operations with new safety guidance and procedures. Conventions, festivals, and large events can take place.


The Eleven Illinois Regions

1. NORTH: Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside, Winnebago

2. NORTH-CENTRAL: Bureau, Fulton, Grundy, Henderson, Henry, Kendall, Knox, La Salle, Livingston, Marshall, McDonough, McLean, Mercer, Peoria, Putnam, Rock Island, Stark, Tazewell, Warren, Woodford

3. WEST-CENTRAL: Adams, Brown, Calhoun, Cass, Christian, Greene, Hancock, Jersey, Logan, Macoupin, Mason, Mason, Menard, Montgomery, Morgan, Pike, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott

4. METRO EAST: Bond, Clinton, Madison, Monroe, Randolph, St. Clair, Washington

5. SOUTHERN: Alexander, Edwards, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Marion, Massac, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Saline, Union, Wabash, Wayne, White, Williamson

6. EAST-CENTRAL: Champaign, Clark, Clay, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, De Witt, Douglas, Edgar, Effingham, Fayette, Ford, Iroquois, Jasper, Lawrence, Macon, Moultrie, Piatt, Richland, Shelby, Vermillion

7. SOUTH SUBURBAN: Kankakee, Will

8. WEST SUBURBAN: DuPage, Kane

9. NORTH SUBURBAN: Lake, McHenry

10. SUBURBAN COOK: Suburban Cook

11. CHICAGO: City of Chicago



DEC. 31
Chinese authorities treated dozens of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause.

JAN. 3
China officially notifies the WHO of an outbreak

JAN. 11
China reported its first death.

JAN. 21
Other countries, including the United States, confirm cases. A man arrives from Wuhan to the state of Washington.

JAN. 23
Wuhan, a city of more than 11 million, was cut off by Chinese authorities.

JAN. 24
Illinois health officials announced the first confirmed case the novel coronavirus COVID-19 infection in the state of Illinois, also the second confirmed case in the United States. The case was a woman in her 60s who had returned from a December 25 – January 13 visit to Wuhan, China, the place of origin of the outbreak, where she had frequently visited a hospitalized relative and other relatives with respiratory illnesses.

JAN. 25
The United States confirms its third case in Orange County, California. 

JAN. 28
The United States suspends all flights to China.

JAN. 30
The W.H.O. declared a global health emergency.

FEB. 2
The first coronavirus death was reported outside China and the United States confirms its 11th case. 

FEB. 4
A cruise ship in Japan quarantined thousands.

FEB. 5
President Trump pledges to safeguard United States citizens from the COVID-19 Coronavirus during his State of the Union address.  

FEB. 7
A Chinese doctor who tried to raise the alarm died. President Trump pledges $100 Million Dollars to assist China and other countries in fighting the COVID-19 Coronavirus. 

FEB. 10
The death toll in China surpassed the number SARS killed worldwide.

FEB. 13
There were more than 14,000 new cases in Hubei Province.

FEB. 14
France announces the first coronavirus death in Europe.

FEB. 15
The United States announces plans to evacuate nearly four hundred Americans quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

FEB. 17
Evacuated U.S. passengers from the cruise ship Diamond Princess arrive in the United States – including fourteen with confirmed COVID-19 infections.

FEB. 19
Hundreds leave the quarantined cruise ship in Japan.

FEB. 23
Italy sees major surge in coronavirus cases and officials lock down towns.

FEB. 24
The Trump administration asks Congress for $1.25 billion for coronavirus response.

FEB. 29
The United States records its first coronavirus death and announces travel restrictions from China.

The third Illinois resident tested positive for the virus in suburban Cook County.

March 4
House passes $8.3 billion emergency coronavirus bill. Ultra Music Festival Miami cancels.

March 6
Number of coronavirus cases hits 100,000 globally. SXSW festival cancels. 

March 7
Coronavirus has killed nearly 3,500 people and infected another 102,000 people across more than 90 countries.

March 7
Jason Kaczorowski Photography photographs Stacey & Adam’s wedding. Over 200 guests, including 16 people in the wedding party, attend the couple’s wedding ceremony and dance the night away in front of a live band during their fabulous wedding reception at the Langham in Chicago.

March 9
The entire country of Italy goes on lockdown. Coachella and Stagecoach are canceled.  Pearl Jam cancels the first leg of their Gigaton 2020 tour. Madonna cancels her Madame X Tour.

March 11
The WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.

The United States announces level 3 travel advisory and suspended entry to all foreign nationals traveling from China, Iran, and certain European countries at any point during the 14 days prior to their scheduled travel to the U.S.

The United States confirm 272 additional cases, bringing the total number to over 1,272. Seven more deaths were reported, bringing the total number to 38.

Illinois reported six new cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus bringing the total to 25 throughout the state. 

Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson have tested positive in Australia.

The Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert and Emmanuel Mudiay were diagnosed with the illness. As a result, the NBA suspended the entire season after the night’s games. The Utah Jazz vs Oklahoma City Thunder game was postponed after doctors reported Gobert had the illness. 

March 12
Lollapalooza Argentina have officially announced that the festival will be postponed. The Who postpone their UK/Ireland tour. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame cancel their 2020 Induction Ceremony.

March 15
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker ordered all bars and restaurants closed to sit-in diners in addition to restriction on public gatherings that limited weddings and other special events to under 50 people amid growing concerns over the community spread of the virus throughout Illinois.

March 21
A Stay-at-Home order went into effect on Saturday, March 21, 2020 throughout the state of Illinois. Governor Pritzker issued Executive Order 2020-10, which stated that all individuals must stay at home, with exceptions for essential activities, essential government functions, and essential businesses and operations.

June 26
On Friday, June 26th, Governor Pritzker issued Executive Order 2020-43, which safely expanded operations for businesses and communities based on compliance with the safety guidelines, as the state moved to Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan.

Illinois residents had Sheltered-in-Place in their homes for nearly 100 days in total (97 days to be exact). 

The initial Stay-at-Home order issued on March 21, 2020 was intended to expire April 6, 2020. 


* * * *



Here’s a few common questions regarding the COVID-19 Coronavirus that may help steer your decision regarding your event.

The facts presented have been verified as of Friday, March 13, 2020.


No. Unfortunately it is not like the flu.

It does share symptoms with the flu, the common cold, and seasonal allergies, which is why many aren’t taking it as seriously as they should.

Again, don’t panic, but do take responsible precautions, both for yourself, your family and friends.


The current infection rate for COVID-19 is 2-3, meaning if someone catches it, they are likely to spread it to 2-3 people, who then spread it to 2-3 other people, and so on. The growth is exponential: seemingly slow and then seemingly all at once.

During the past 2 weeks, the number of deaths has more than doubled to over 5,600 and there is currently (as of 3/14/2020) 150,000 cases worldwide.

(UPDATE: Friday, April 3, 2020 – Only three weeks since last being reported, there are now 1,093,107 cases worldwide and the number of deaths is now 58,729 as of 4/3/2020). 

That could last for months – or even over a year – with infections concentrated in shorter periods, staggered across time in different communities.

Anywhere from 200,000 to 1.7 million people may die if the virus isn’t contained. (As of 10/10/2020, 1,075,409 have died worldwide and over 37 Million people have been infected.)

Because big events give space for the illness to spread to far more than 2-3 people much more quickly, isolation and quarantine are a way to “flatten the curve.”

In the US, several states have issued bans on gatherings of more than 250 people through the end of March.

UPDATE: Monday, March 16, 2020 – During his daily COVID-19 update on Monday, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker mandated that social gatherings over 50 people be canceled. The mandate will be enforced for the next 8 weeks based on the CDC guidelines. This is a significant updated the Governor’s previous mandate made last Thursday, which mandated that all large-scale events exceeding 1,000 individuals be canceled for the next 30 days.

UPDATE: Tuesday, March 31, 2020 – Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker extends “stay-at-home” order until April 30, 2020

– – – 

UPDATE: Friday, April 3, 2020 – Illinois officials reported 8,904 cases of COVID-19 and 210 deaths

– – – 

UPDATE: Saturday, October 10, 2020 – Illinois has reported 319,461 cases of COVID-19 and 9,805 deaths

– – – 

UPDATE: Wednesday, November 11, 2020 – Illinois has reported 523,840 cases of COVID-19 and over 10,658  deaths.

– – – 

UPDATE: Monday, January 25, 2021 – Illinois has reported 1,104,763 cases of COVID-19 and over 20,744 deaths.

– – – 

UPDATE: Thursday, June 3, 2021 – Illinois has reported 1,383,739 cases of COVID-19 and over 25,265 deaths.

– – – 

UPDATE: Thursday, June 3, 2021 – The United States has reported 34,169,954 cases of COVID-19 and over 611,543 deaths.

– – – 

UPDATE: Thursday, June 3, 2021 – The World has reported 172,842,363 cases of COVID-19 and over 3,715,110 deaths. 

– – – 

UPDATE: Thursday, January 6, 2022 – Illinois has reported 2,295,445 cases of COVID-19 and over 31,416 deaths.

– – – 

UPDATE: Thursday, January 6, 2022 – The United States has reported 58,972,329 cases of COVID-19 and over 854,199 deaths.

– – – 

UPDATE: Thursday, January 6, 2022 – The World has reported 299,587,289 cases of COVID-19 and over 5,486,950 deaths. 




You may be healthy, which means if you catch it, you will be sick for a few weeks, but ultimately will likely recover. If the 2-3 or more people you spread it are older or may have compromised immune systems, they will likely not be fine and their chances of not recovering is much greater.

Not everyone has the luxury of normal good health. Immunocompromised people include cancer patients and survivors, the elderly, people with Asthma, Diabetes, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis and other “invisible” diseases you can’t necessarily see because they look healthy, etc.

We live in a society and need to look out for one another.


Realize and embrace that your guest list may be compromised.

From family and friends perhaps affected by the travel ban to immunocompromised guests, you will likely have to understand and accept that some guests may be unable to attend your wedding.

It’s alright to feel sad and even mad about this. The best thing to do is to tell those who may be missing your event that you love them, you understand and you wish for them to remain healthy. 

Based on the date of your wedding, some guests may wish to not attend to slow the spread of the virus. 

For those guests unable to attend your event, consider hosting a live stream or Facetime your ceremony for elderly relatives unable to leave nursing homes. 

Create a personalized webpage or Facebook Group for your wedding and invite friends and family to share photos.

Consider personalized favors such as Hand Sanitizer packages for your guests. These can be found for as little as $0.85

Speaking of hand sanitizer, “Sanitation Stations” will be all the rage in 2020! Consider placing hand sanitizer by your guest book and near table cards at the entrance to your reception. 

And since we’re on the topic of germs, perhaps ask your venue if they can prop restroom doors so guests don’t need to use handles or place trash cans by exits so guests can dispose of towels used to open doors. 

Finally, heed the advice of your wedding vendors. For example, if your caterer advises against those delicious passed hors d’oeuvres you sampled during your tasting, trust them. 


Here is some recommended reading from experts in their field

Center for Global Development

World Health Organization (WHO)

Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center

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