Pritzker announces added restrictions for 2 more regions amid rise in COVID-19 metrics

(The Center Square) – Regions including Cook County suburbs and the Metro East St. Louis area will be under stricter COVID-19 mitigations beginning Wednesday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration announced. That will prohibit indoor bar and restaurant services.

Four regions are under stricter mitigations with Region 1, which represents the northwestern most part of the state, under even stricter prohibitions. The addition of Region 4 (Metro East St. Louis counties) and Region 10 (suburban Cook County) would make that six of the state’s eleven regions not allowing indoor bar or restaurant service.

Region 4 had mitigations in place weeks ago, but they were later lifted.

“Region 4 has had a 7-day rolling average test positivity rate of 8 percent or above for three consecutive days,” the governor’s office said. “Region 10 has had eight consecutive days of increases in test positivity and seven days of increased hospital admissions making it the first region in the state to meet the metrics for additional mitigations in this way and surpass warning levels in two categories simultaneously.”

If a region’s COVID-19 positivity rate is equal or less than 6.5 percent for three consecutive days, they will return Phase 4, which allows for some indoor service with capacity restrictions.

The new mitigations announced for the regions do not impact schools.

Among the mitigation measures taking effect October 28 in Regions 4 and 10 are:

Bars

No indoor serviceAll outside bar service closes at 11:00 p.m.All bar patrons should be seated at tables outsideNo ordering, seating, or congregating at bar (bar stools should be removed)Tables should be 6 feet apartNo standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exitingNo dancing or standing indoorsReservations required for each partyNo seating of multiple parties at one table

Restaurants

No indoor dining or bar serviceAll outdoor dining closes at 11:00 p.m.Outside dining tables should be 6 feet apartNo standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exitingReservations required for each partyNo seating of multiple parties at one table

Meetings, Social Events, Gatherings

Limit to lesser of 25 guests or 25 percent of overall room capacityNo party buses

Gambling venues and casinos must close at 11p.m. and are limited to 25 percent capacity, and have to follow mitigations for bars and restaurants, if applicable

Some businesses across the state have said they won’t comply with the measures. The Illinois Restaurant Association has opposed the administration’s rules, though they encourage restaurants to comply.

“We also have serious concerns over the consistency of the data the state is using to drive these devastating decisions to close our industry,” said IRA President and CEO Sam Toia. “By contrast, DuPage County has provided detailed statistics indicating that restaurants are linked to just 6% of outbreaks over the past seven months – yet their indoor dining was shut down. As the science surrounding COVID-19 has evolved, so must the metrics for mitigation. ”

Pritzker has threatened to take away liquor and gaming licenses from businesses that don’t comply with his prohibitions. Under an emergency rule Pritzker filed, businesses that don’t comply with capacity limits and face covering mandates could face fines up to $2,500 and misdemeanor charges.

State Sen. Don DeWitte, R-St. Charles, warned the moves will hurt business and the governor’s political standing.

“I think the fact the governor has chosen to take such a hard line in this process, I believe we’re going to find out how harsh those ramifications against the governor and his administration will be,” DeWitte said. “I hope we don’t get to the push-shove measures, but we may very well in this situation and I hope we can avoid it.”

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