CHICAGO (CBS) — After a surge in cases downstate, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said starting Tuesday, tighter restrictions will be in place in that area.
The governor said Region 4 will have new mitigation measures to try to stem the spike in coronavirus measures.
“Gathering limits will be reduced to the lesser of 25 individuals or 25% of overall room capacity. All bars, restaurants gaming facilities and casinos will close at 11:00 p.m. matching the newly imposed closing times for St Louis. Party buses will be closed,” Pritzker said. “Reservations will be required for each party at restaurants and bars and no congregating indoors or outdoors. Bar stools will be removed at bars to help ensure that no ordering seating or congregating takes place at the bar to help ensure that that happens, dining party sizes will be limited to six people and tables should continue to be six feet apart.
On Sunday, Governor 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.
If metrics do not improve after 14 days, tighter mitigation efforts such as the closing of bars and restaurants altogether may happen.
“This is one of my least favorite things to do. I want businesses to thrive. I want people to be free to do what it is that they want to do. But I want to make sure that people are safe and healthy, and that’s the design of these mitigations,” Pritzker said. “I’m concerned, frankly, that all this activity has led to an increasing positivity rate. In order for us to avoid stricter mitigations across the state, and even here in this region after this, people really need to wear their masks. They really need to keep that social distance. If they do that, we can keep this economy going.”
On Monday, 1,773 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Illinois. Dr. Ngozi Ezike of the Illinois Department of Public Health said even though the restrictions are for one part of the state, everyone needs to be aware of what’s happening and how it can affect them.
“We do know that this virus does not recognize borders and specific regions. And it doesn’t stop at the edge of a region or a county. And that’s why we are trying to help citizens of residents of Illinois, make the best decisions they can,” Ezike said.
The head of the IDPH announced the release of a travel map to keep people informed with the latest COVID-19 numbers throughout the country.
“As you move, whether it’s by bus or by train or by airport, think about the entire trip, not just the final destination but how will you get safely to the bus terminal or the airport. How will you move through the train terminal or the airport terminal? How will you handle the check in and the security,” asked Ezike. “Think about all of that and how to be as safe as possible when you’re planning your travel.”
She added that driving to and from states doesn’t keep anyone safe once they leave their vehicle.
“If you’re going by car, think about as you’re stopping for gas and food, you also want to think about what are the rates in this area so that you can just make sure you’re extremely cautious as you stop for whatever you need to do,” Ezike said. “The IDPH travel map will easily show you the states where the average daily case rate is above 15 cases per 100,000 population, and we designate that as higher risk. So if you are opportune to be taking a vacation or you’re able to get a couple of days away and you have some choice in the matter, please take a look at this map. It’s some simple guidance. Maybe it will help you make a choice to pick one location over another.”