Illinois is posed to lift the mask mandate for many indoor settings on Mon., Feb. 28 if hospitalization trends for COVID-19 cases continue to go down, according to an announcement today by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

The change will affect businesses, retail stores, restaurants and bars, Pritzker said, though schools and congregate living facilities will not be included. Illinois REALTORS® is researching the issue and will soon provide an assessment of the proposed change on real estate activities. Read more.

Citing a large reduction in the number of patients hospitalized statewide because of COVID-19 and 20 percent reduction in the number of intensive care beds needed for COVID-19 patients, the governor said medical experts believe the spread of the Omicron variant seems to have peaked. He thanked Illinoisans for following recommended mitigation strategies such as vaccinations, social distancing and masking.

Pritzker, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike and Dr. Emily Landon, executive medical director of infection prevention and control at the University of Chicago Medicine, urged Illinoisans to voluntarily wear masks to protect the elderly, the immune-compromised and children who either aren’t fully vaccinated or who are too young to be vaccinated. Masks will also be required in daycare facilities, long-term care facilities, prisons, shelters and on public transportation. Businesses and municipalities can choose to use more stringent mitigations.