CHICAGO (CBS) — With the state’s COVID-19 infection rate and coronavirus hospitalizations continuing to trend downward, two more regions of the state are on pace to lift indoor dining restrictions on Tuesday.

On Monday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,944 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, as well as 49 new deaths. It’s the lowest daily case count in Illinois since Oct. 24, in the early days of the fall surge of the pandemic.

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Since the start of the pandemic, IDPH has reported a total of 1,104,763 coronavirus cases, including 18,798 deaths.

The statewide 7-day average case positivity rate in Illinois now stands at 4.7%, the lowest it’s been since Oct. 14. During the second surge of the pandemic in October and November, the state’s case positivity rate peaked at 13.2% on Nov. 13, and other than a two-week rise after Christmas, has dropped steadily ever since.

COVID-19 hospitalizations also are continuing to drop statewide. As of Sunday night, 2,962 virus patients were hospitalized in Illinois, including 601 in the ICU and 302 on ventilators. Coronavirus hospitalizations in Illinois peaked 6,175 on Nov. 20, although there are still far more COVID-19 patients in the hospital now than at the start of the fall surge in early October, when the state was averaging about 1,500 hospitalizations per day.

IDPH also announced Monday that Region 8 (DuPage and Kane counties) and Region 9 (Lake and McHenry counties) will be able to move into Tier 1 of the state’s regional COVID-19 mitigation plan on Tuesday if their current virus trends continue.

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.

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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.

With Region 8 and Region 9 likely to move to Tier 1 on Tuesday, all but one region of the state will be allowed to have limited indoor dining. Region 4, the Metro East area near St. Louis, remains in Tier 2 mitigations; which allow 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.

Region 4 is still facing a shortage of ICU beds and has been below 8% test positivity for only one day, according to the latest IDPH data.

Meantime, Region 1 (Northwestern Illinois) and Region 2 (North-Central Illinois) on Monday were able to roll back from Tier 1 mitigations to Phase 4 of the state’s Restore Illinois reopening plan, which allows for even looser restrictions on indoor dining. Phase 4 also allows for some indoor recreation facilities, such as bowling alleys and skating rinks, to reopen with a capacity limit of 50 people or 50% of normal capacity per room, whichever is less.  Capacity limits for public gatherings also increase to 50 people or 50% of room capacity, whichever is less.

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CBS 2 Chicago Staff