Gov. J.B. Pritzker has announced that new restrictions will be placed on bars and restaurants, which will ban indoor dining, and public gatherings will be limited starting Saturday in Lake and McHenry counties.
Region 9, which includes Lake and McHenry counties, has seen a 7-day positivity rate of 8% or above for three consecutive days. COVID-related hospital admissions have surged, now three times as high as September and five times as high as June.
Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health announced Wednesday morning that resurgence mitigations will be implemented beginning at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.
Lake and McHenry counties will join seven out of the 11 other regions in Illinois that will be under virus mitigations, Pritzker said.
Public gatherings will be reduced to 25 people and indoor dining and indoor bar service will be closed. Outdoor service along with takeout, delivery and drive-through service will remain open.
“These resurgence mitigations aim to cut down on some of the highest high-risk activities until we bring down the positivity rate in a region once again. I know this virus is hard on everyone. But this battle isn’t going away by itself,” Pritzker said in a statement.
“We have to manage our way through it with the tools we have available to us. And there are many of those tools that nearly everyone in our state has available to join the fight,” Pritzker added.
A full list of mitigation requirements for bars includes the following: No indoor service; all outside bar service closes at 11:00 p.m.; all bar patrons should be seated at tables outside; no ordering, seating, or congregating at the bar (bar stools should be removed); tables should be 6 feet apart; no standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting; no dancing or standing indoors; reservations required for each party; no seating of multiple parties at one table.
A full list of mitigation requirements for restaurants includes the following: no indoor service; all outdoor dining closes at 11:00 p.m.; outside dining tables should be 6 feet apart; no standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting; reservations required for each party; no seating of multiple parties at one table.
Meetings, social events and gatherings are limited to a lesser of 25 guests or 25% of overall room capacity. No party buses will be allowed and gaming and casinos will close at 11 p.m.
The mitigations do not apply to schools, fitness centers, or polling places.
“With Region 9 being added to the list of regions in mitigation, we are getting close to the entire state implementing mitigation measures,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.
“This is not just a warning, but a call to action. We continue to move backwards, losing all the ground we had gained over the summer. We turned the state around once, let’s do it again. Limit your potential exposures by wearing a mask, physically distancing, and limiting in-person gatherings. It will take all of us working together to beat this virus,” Ezike said.
IDPH will continue to track the positivity rate in Region 9 to determine if the restrictions can be relaxed or if additional mitigations are required.
If the positivity rate in Region 9 averages less than or equal to 6.5 percent over a three-day period, there is a decrease in hospital admissions for COVID-19 like illness over a three-day period, and the three-day rolling averages of ICU bed availability and medical/surgical bed availability is greater than or equal to 20 percent over a seven-day period, the region will return to Phase 4 mitigations.
If the average positivity rate continues to increase over seven out of 10 days and the hospital admissions for COVID-19 like illness continues to increase over seven out of 10 days, more stringent mitigations can be applied, officials said.