Illinois enters new phase, social distancing lines blur


Photo Courtesy of Mei Tan

Protesters kneel in the street during a demonstration following the death of George Floyd.

By Heather Robinson, Assistant Daytime News Editor

While the state of Illinois is transitioning into the COVID-19 Phase 3 plan for recovery, some restaurants are re-opening with limitations. 

In this phase, face coverings are still required, but many are choosing to opt out of wearing masks in public. 

Rex Tse, sophomore in Engineering, said he believes many people are becoming careless with the virus.  

Tse said his family has been out to dinner a few times since stores began to reopen. During both of the times they went out, no customers at the restaurants were wearing masks.

Tse added that even when the government declares it is safe to travel, he is going to wait in a buffer period until he believes it is safe. 

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    “Most researchers say there will be a second wave, and I don’t want to be a part of that statistic,” Tse said. 

    Tse said he doesn’t believe the University’s plans to return to in-person instruction on campus are realistic. 

    “I know the University doesn’t have any control over frats or parties. But that’s the exact problem: People generally are careless and will pursue instant gratification over safety in the long term,” Tse said. 

    While Phase 3 allows gatherings of 10 people or fewer to resume, large numbers of people both locally and nationally are gathering to protest police brutality following the death of George Floyd.

    Diann Moon, sophomore in LAS, attended the Black Lives Matter protest in Champaign on June 1, which she said drew an estimated 600-800 people. 

    “Most people were being safe about it and wearing masks,” Moon said. “However, I don’t think anyone was actively social distancing. Everyone sort of blended in together, almost resembling a phalanx. There were countable individuals who were slightly social distancing by walking from the far side of the march.” 

    Moon added that she was aware she would be coming into contact with a lot of people in tight spaces when she decided to go to the protest. 

    “We did take some precautious measures by double-layering our masks and wearing gloves. However, it was definitely hard to social distance given there were so many people,” Moon said. “To be frank, social distancing was not our top agenda as everyone was marching in unity for justice and peace.”

    Moon said she believes many people in the C-U area think the COVID-19 situation improved.

    “When I walk around on the (Main) Quad or Green Street, I see a lot of people walking around without a mask,” she added.

    Robert Parker, director at McKinley Health Center, said the importance of social distancing may be the single most important element of preventing disease spread.

    “Wearing masks provide further protection and reduces the spread of infectious droplets when you sneeze or cough — where studies have shown spread well beyond the 6 feet recommended in social distancing,” Parker said. 

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