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Tougher COVID-19 Restrictions Coming Saturday For Northwest Illinois, After Recent Rise In Virus Cases

CHICAGO (CBS) -- With COVID-19 infections rising steadily in the northwest region of Illinois over the past few weeks, Gov. JB Pritzker announced tougher mitigations will go into effect in that part of the state starting Saturday, meaning no more indoor service for bars and restaurants.

Last week, Pritzker warned that Region 1 -- which includes Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside, and Winnebago counties -- had seen its coronavirus infection rate climb "at a concerning rate" since mid-September.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, its seven-day average positivity rate has been above 8% for three days in a row, the state's threshold for added virus restrictions.

"The concerning uptick in Region 1's positivity – jumping more than two percentage points in two weeks even as the majority of Illinois continues to see downward trends – demands increased efforts to stop the spread in our northwestern counties," Pritzker said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. "As other regions have demonstrated, stricter mitigations will lead to safer communities when people mask up, keep their distance, wash their hands and respect public health. It is my hope that the residents of Region 1 can turn this situation around quickly, and Dr. Ezike and I continue to coordinate with local officials to make that happen."

The new restrictions that will begin on Saturday in Region 1 include:

  • No indoor service at bars and restaurants
  • Outdoor service at restaurants and bars must close by 11 p.m., and may not open before 6 a.m.
  • All bar patrons must be seated at tables outside, and cannot go to the bar to place orders
  • Tables at bars and restaurants must be spaced at least 6 feet apart
  • No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table
  • Reservations required for each party at a bar or restaurant
  • A limit of the lesser of 25 people or 25% capacity at other meetings, social events, and gatherings
  • No party buses
  • Casinos and video gaming operators must close at 11 p.m., and are limited to 25% capacity
  • Casinos and video gaming operations also must follow the same mitigations for bars and restaurants, if applicable

The same restrictions were imposed in Region 7 (Will and Kankakee counties) in late August, but were lifted last week. Region 4 (the Metro East area) has been under stricter COVID mitigations since early September.

The tougher mitigation rules for Region 1 and Region 4 can be lifted if they get their seven-day average positivity rate below 6.5% for three days in a row.

"COVID-19 spread can increase very quickly, as we've seen in some regions in the state, now including Region 1," IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. "As the pandemic continues, so must our fight against it: Please, don't hold or attend large events or mass gatherings, wear your face covering, and keep six feet of distance between you and others."

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