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Free at last? Let’s hope so.

The chains are off — mostly.

People — finally — are going about their business in a normal way, save for the relatively few having trouble coming to grips with independence. Wrigley Field was expected to be filled to capacity this weekend for a continuation of the always entertaining Cubs-Cardinals rivalry.

It’s a new day.

After 16 months of an increasingly intolerable coronavirus lockdown, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has unlocked the handcuffs that restrained the activities of 12-million-plus citizens in order to restrain the spread of the coronavirus.

“A strong economy requires that people not only feel safe, but truly be safe ... thanks to the lifesaving power of vaccinations, that day is finally here for Illinois,” said Governor J.B. Pritzker. “I invite all Illinoisans to feel the hope and joy of this moment while also recognizing that this pandemic is still very present for the world at large — not to mention those here at home who have not been or cannot be vaccinated.”

However one feels about the draconian measures the governor took in response to the coronavirus pandemic, he’s incontestably correct on one point — the vaccines created by drug companies in record time did the trick.

Thank God and the genius of dedicated scientists for that reprieve.

That’s why all those who have not been vaccinated and need to be should take advantage of the opportunity to do so.

The overwhelming majority of those who have been vaccinated report no serious adverse reactions.

Not only are they in the range of 90 percent-plus effective, but Carle Foundation Hospital’s statistics show that unvaccinated persons represent most of those who continue to be hospitalized as a consequence of contracting the virus.

Plus there’s another big advantage — fully-vaccinated people in Illinois can resume activities without wearing a mask. There are a few exceptions, including local business and workplace guidance. But they’re mostly history — and good riddance.

The governor hopes that 70 percent of Illinois adults will have received their vaccination by July 4, and only the reluctance of some unduly suspicious people and members of certain groups will block reaching that goal.

Skeptics should remember, as the governor noted, that “Illinois is recording the lowest number of hospitalizations and test positivity rates since March 2020.”

Those were the beginning of the dark days in Illinois. Whether right or wrong, Pritzker was among those governors who took the most aggressive steps toward limiting spread of the virus. People will probably find out in a few years — after proper studies have been made about what worked and what didn’t — whether he was right to do so.

What’s important for the moment is that the time of darkness has passed and sunshine and normality await us all — barring some type of unforeseen disaster.

Let’s hope everyone does what they can to prevent that from happening.

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