GALENA, Ill. — Jo Daviess County Board members extended the county’s COVID-19 disaster proclamation for what they hope will be the last time, as the state begins the final phase of its Restore Illinois plan.

Board members voted unanimously this week to extend the proclamation for another 30 days, until July 15. The board has renewed the proclamation each month since it was established in March 2020.

“Hopefully, it’ll be the last time we will have to do it,” County Administrator Scott Toot said.

Toot and Board Chairman Don Hill said the proclamation is necessary to ensure Jo Daviess County is eligible for federal funding during the pandemic.

“If we expect to get money from them, we think that we need to (have the proclamation),” Hill said. “If they go around spreading money out and we’re not having a disaster plan in effect, we might not get the money.”

The proclamation does not set requirements for businesses, such as mandating masks, social distancing or capacity limits. Rather, it activates the county’s emergency operations plan; authorizes officials to implement procedures such as health screenings in county buildings; and makes available additional federal, county, state and municipal resources.

Hill described the proclamation as a way for the county to sign on to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s statewide efforts to combat the pandemic.

As cases continue to decline, the state has moved into the final phase of the governor’s Restore Illinois plan. The governor previously announced that Phase 5 will begin today. A press release from the governor’s office states that the phase allows “all sectors of the economy (to) resume at regular capacity.”

Conventions, festivals and other large gatherings will be allowed to operate at full capacity, and businesses will no longer be required to mandate social distancing or daily health screenings.

Fully vaccinated people will be able to resume activities without wearing masks, though Phase 5 still recommends masks for unvaccinated people, as well as all individuals on public transportation, in health care settings and in “congregate facilities” such as correctional and long-term care facilities.

While Toot said he anticipates the state will move into Phase 5 on schedule, the board wanted to extend the proclamation in case things change.

“In case they didn’t go into Phase 5, it was just prudent to pass this because you can’t predict what the state’s going to do,” he said.

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