BY JERRY NOWICKI,
Capitol News Illinois
All state parks, fish and wildlife areas, recreational areas and historic sites are closed until further notice in the latest social distancing measures taken by Illinois officials to combat the spread of coronavirus disease, COVID-19.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources announced the closure of the facilities in a news release Monday, noting all events scheduled at any of the sites are canceled as well.
The department will “work tirelessly with the governor’s office and the Illinois Department of Public Health to provide information as to the schedule for safely reopening our facilities,” according to a news release.
The Illinois State Museum and its affiliated branches will be closed as well.
“What our patrons love most about our facilities—the opportunity to interact (with) exhibits, patrons and staff—also is of greatest concern at this time,” Illinois State Museum Director Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko said in a news release. “We know this decision is the best course of action to ensure the safety of patrons who visit our facilities as well as our dedicated staff.”
The museum and its Research and Collections Center, both located in Springfield, will be closed along with the Dickson Mounds Museum in Lewistown and the Lockport Gallery in Lockport. All affiliated locations will close until further notice as well, according to a news release.
The museum will work with IDNR, IDPH and Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration to “assess the optimal time to reopen facilities,” according to the release.
Last week, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield separately announced the closure of its facility to the public. All public events planned at the ALPLM through April 10 are canceled, and additional events may be canceled as circumstances warrant, according to the museum’s Facebook page.
Social distancing efforts are aimed at slowing the spread of the virus by limiting contact among large groups of people. Pritzker has also issued orders to close schools, restaurants and bars with a tentative reopening date set for March 31.
There had been 93 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 13 counties in Illinois as of Sunday, but that number is growing each day and health experts have warned it is artificially low due to lack of national testing kits.
“The time for persuasion and public appeals is over,” Pritzker said at a Sunday news conference on the spread of the virus. “The time for action is here. This is not a joke. No one is immune to this. And you have an obligation to act in the best interests of all the people of this state.”
All Illinoisans impacted by a cancellation or closure at one of the facilities can call the IDNR’s information line Monday through Friday at (217) 782-6752.
A complete listing of state sites can be found on the IDNR website at https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/Parks/Pages/default.aspx or https://www2.illinois.gov/dnrhistoric/Experience/Sites/Pages/Default.aspx.