The Windy City is one of seven Illinois health regions that have increased restrictions.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Tuesday that Chicago will have to close bars and dining rooms beginning midnight on Friday because of a resurgence in COVID positivity rates and hospitalizations.
Prior to the order, Chicago was allowed 50 percent capacity. But additional guidelines mandate that public gatherings be limited to 25 people, outdoor dining close at 11 p.m., outside dining tables stay 6 feet apart, and that each party request a reservation. Consumers aren’t allowed to stand or congregate indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting the restaurant, and multiple parties aren’t allowed to be seated together.
Pritzker said Chicago is averaging more than twice as many COVID-related hospitalizations per day as it did one month ago. The positivity rate has doubled since the start of October.
“We can't ignore what is happening around us,” Pritzker said in a statement. “Because without action, this could look worse than anything we saw in the spring. So please, no matter where you live, what your politics are, where you work or who you love: Illinois: mask up! And we'll get through this together.”
Seven of Illinois’ 11 health regions have received increased restrictions in the past two weeks. Pritzker also shut down indoor dining in regions labeled Metro East (Illinois suburb of St. Louis, Missouri), Suburban Cook County, Southern Illinois (which consist of 20 counties), Will and Kankaee counties, and Kane and DuPage counties. Northwestern Illinois (which consists of nine counties) had to reduce party sizes from 10 to six people and limit public gatherings to 10 people.
According to Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, when regions started implementing increased measures, it was because the seven-day rolling positivity rate was above 8 percent for three straight days. But in Suburban Cook County and Chicago, mitigation measures are required because of rising hospitalizations and positivity rates.
“Based on current trends, we soon could face reduced hospital bed availability and overwhelming our health care systems,” Ezike said in a statement. “Please, for our health care workers, yourself, and your community, keep distance between you and others, wash your hands, and always wear a mask when around people.”
Restrictions will loosen in Chicago if the positivity rate averages less than or equal to 6.5 percent over a three-day period, there is a decrease in hospitalizations over a three-day period, and the three-day rolling averages of ICU and medical/surgical bed availability is more than or equal to 20 percent over a week.
However, if the positivity rate and hospitalizations continues to climb in more than seven of the next 10 days, then restrictions may become more stringent.
On Tuesday, Illinois reported 4,000 new COVID cases and 46 deaths. On October 1, the state reported 2,166 new cases and 25 deaths.