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Illinois Tightens Restrictions On Metro East Region With COVID-19 Positivity Rate At 8% Or Higher For 3 Days Running

CHICAGO (CBS) -- With COVID-19 cases on the rise, the State of Illinois announced new mitigation efforts Sunday for the Metro East region downstate.

Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health said in a news release that the mitigation efforts for the Metro East area – or Region 4 of the state – will go into effect Tuesday. The region has reported three consecutive days of a test positivity rate of 8 percent or higher for the coronavirus, which triggers the implementation of tighter restrictions.

The new efforts include the closing of bars, restaurants, and casinos by 11 p.m. nightly, a ban on party buses, and a reduction of gathering sizes to the lesser of 25 people or 25 percent room capacity.

If metrics do not improve after 14 days, tighter mitigation efforts such as the closing of bars and restaurants altogether may happen.

"Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I have made it clear that neither arbitrary dates on a calendar nor political pressure will dictate Illinois' efforts to protect our people. If the data shows we need to go backwards in our reopening, I won't hesitate to tighten restrictions to protect our collective health," Gov. Pritzker said in a news release. "Region 4 of our statewide 11 reopening regions – the Metro East – has now surpassed an 8 percent seven-day rolling average positivity rate – a trend that I have made clear would trigger stricter mitigations when this plan was announced in July."

Pritzker and the IDPH have worked with local officials in the Metro East region and across the Missouri state line in St. Louis to impose mitigation efforts that deal with unique factors in the area. He said anyone who is not taking the virus seriously needs to start doing so now.

"As we warned when we began reopening Illinois, we are seeing an increase in cases, emergency department visits, and other indicators that the virus is circulating more widely in the community," IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in the release. "Region 4 is the first of the 11 regions to reach resurgence criteria, but we hope it will be the last. By implementing additional mitigations, such as decreased indoor capacities and limiting hours, we hope to reduce the spread of the virus in the Metro East, and also help prevent an increase in cases, hospitalizations, and death in other regions of the state."

The specific new restrictions for the Metro East area taking effect Tuesday are as follows:

• Meetings, social events, and other gatherings will be limited to the lesser of 25 people or 25 percent room capacity.

• All bars, restaurants, gaming facilities, and casinos must close at 11 p.m. This matches a newly-imposed rule in St. Louis.

• All reception halls will be closed.

• Party buses may not operate.

• Reservations will be required at restaurants and bars, and people may not congregate indoors or outdoors.

• Indoor tables will be reduced to six people or less.

• Dancing indoors will not be allowed.

• Bar stools will be taken away at bars to prevent congregating.

• Tables should continue to be six feet apart.

The IDPH will track the positivity rate in the area in the days to come to determine the next steps. If the positivity rate averages 6.5 percent or less over two weeks, the area can go back to Phase 4. If the positivity rate is between 6.5 and 8 percent, the state will continue monitoring the region to determine if further mitigations are needed. If the positivity rate averages 8 percent or more over two weeks, tighter restrictions will go into effect.

On Sunday, Illinois officials announced 1,562 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide, including 18 additional confirmed deaths.


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