CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago’s stay-at-home advisory officially ends today, and with infection rates continuing to decline, Chicago and the Cook County suburbs are on track to allow limited indoor dining and drinking at restaurants and bars tomorrow.
The Illinois Department of Public Health said Friday if current trends in both the city and Cook County suburbs continue, they will move to the state’s Tier 1 regional virus mitigation plan on Saturday.READ MORE: Suburban Family Still In Shock After They Hired Home Improvement Contractor Via HomeAdvisor, Only For The Contractor To Smash Up Their Property
Under the new rules, indoor dining and bar service would be allowed with a capacity limit of the lesser of 25 people or 25% of normal capacity per room, and no more than four people per table. In addition, bars must serve food in order to offer indoor service. Bars and restaurants also must be closed between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., and reservations are limited to two hours.
Other loosened rules under Tier 1 include gyms and fitness centers expanding to 50% capacity, while still requiring masks and social distancing. Capacity limits for meetings, events, and other social gatherings also would expand from a maximum of 10 people to a limit of 25 people or 25% of overall room capacity, whichever is less.
To qualify for Tier 1 mitigations, a region must have a 7-day average test positivity rate below 8% for three days in a row, have at least 20% of its intensive care unit beds available for three consecutive days, and have no sustained increase in COVID hospitalizations for 7 of the past 10 days.
Both Chicago and the Cook County suburbs have met the hospital benchmarks for several days, but only recently saw their test positivity rates fall below 8%.
The Illinois Restaurant Association says even the limited indoor capacity allowed in Tier 1 would make a difference for small businesses trying to make it, since an estimated one-fifth of them won’t survive the current COVID-19 restrictions.READ MORE: Illinois Reports Most New COVID-19 Cases In More Than A Year, As Testing Hits All-Time High
“We’re definitely seeing a little bit of light at the end of this very dark tunnel,” Illinois Restaurant Association President Sam Toia told CBS 2’s Jeremy Ross this week.
Both Chicago and the Cook County suburbs had moved to Tier 2 mitigations on Monday, allowing for gyms and fitness centers to resume group fitness classes, for the return of lower-risk youth and recreational sports, and for the reopening of museums, theaters, and other cultural institutions at 25% capacity.
Meantime, Region 4 of Illinois (Bond, Clinton, Madison, Monroe, Randolph, St. Clair, and Washington counties in the Metro East area) moved to Tier 2 on Friday, becoming the last region of the state to move out of the most restrictive Tier 3 mitigations.
“With all regions of Illinois now out of Tier 3, we can now see that the entire state is headed down the right path,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “During the summer, we were on this same path. We know that we must continue to take precautions and be smart about how we relax some of the mitigation measures, which are in place to protect our health and safety.”
However, state officials warned if positivity rates start to climb again, or hospital beds start to fill up, individual regions could again find themselves under more restrictive state rules.MORE NEWS: Jamari Hodge Of Calumet City Accused Of Arranging For Child To Engage In Commercial Sex Acts At Illinois Hotels
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