MOLINE, Ill. — The state of Illinois is set to reopen on Friday, June 11, 2021, after more than a year of lockdown and COVID-19 mitigations.
It started with an emergency "stay at home" order, issued by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in March 2020.
If the state moves into Phase 5 of the governor's reopening plan, it will have been 447 days since the "stay at home" order began.
Theatres and the local arts sector are among the businesses and industries initially shut down because of the pandemic. But, these venues are slowly making a comeback.
Under the "Phase 5" reopening plan, theatres will be able to allow full audiences, removing the current 60 percent capacity limit currently in place under the "bridge phase."
The state of Illinois can move back into restrictions and other phases if needed to address rising COVID-19 cases.
The Spotlight Theatre in Moline is continuing its first show this weekend since the pandemic began. That show is "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" and runs through Sunday afternoon.
The Spotlight Theatre's owner, Brent Tubbs, said he is optimistic a state-wide reopening will help bring more people to the theatre's location in Moline.
The past year has been tough for the theatre and arts industry, Tubbs said.
The Spotlight Theatre is holding four shows the rest of this year, instead of the 6 shows in a normal show season.
Tubbs said he is grateful actors get the chance to perform for in-person audiences, and said the group is ready for larger audiences to return, too.
"I think the fact that things open up even more I think will help kinda push that comfortability of you know, of letting people know, it is ok, it's safe," said Tubbs.
Like many businesses and industries during the pandemic, the Spotlight Theatre had to get creative.
The theatre has started offering "pop-up" shows in the community, like at churches or in neighborhoods.
Tubbs said those "pop-up" shows have been successful, so those will continue even as audiences return to the physical theatre location in Moline. Those will be scheduled through September, Tubbs said.
Meanwhile, board members at the Playcrafter's Theatre in Moline said they are also excited for audiences to return.
Those board members said the theatre was struggling before the pandemic. So, they hope the state reopening will benefit the arts and other industries around the Quad Cities.