Following a decrease in COVID-19 test positivity rates and hospitalizations throughout Illinois, Gov. JB Pritzker announced regions across the state are now eligible to move out of Tier 3 mitigationsthe strictest tier of Illinois' resurgence mitigation plan, implemented shortly before Thanksgivingin response to a surge of COVID-19 statewide and across the Midwest.
After weeks of careful consultation with public health experts to balance the need to save lives and support our hospital systems with protecting our economy, Pritzker announced that regions could resume moving out of the tiered resurgence mitigations (Tier 3, Tier 2 and Tier 1) and back into Phase 4 on a data-driven basis.
Pritzker also announced adjustments to the resurgence mitigations in light of ramped up vaccination efforts across the state, with Tier 1 of the resurgence mitigation plan now allowing restaurants and bars in a qualifying region to resume indoor dining with limited capacity. Youth and recreational sports may also resume play following the Illinois Department of Public Health's (IDPH) All Sports Policy in all regions moving out of Tier 3.
As of Jan. 15, regions that will move into Tier 2 include:
Region 1 - North: The counties of Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside, Winnebago
Region 2 - North-Central: Bureau, Fulton, Grundy, Henderson, Henry, Kendall, Knox, La Salle, Livingston, Marshall, McDonough, McLean, Mercer, Peoria, Putnam, Rock Island, Stark, Tazewell, Warren, Woodford
Region 5 - Southern: Alexander, Edwards, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Marion, Massac, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Saline, Union, Wabash, Wayne, White, Williamson
At this time, Regions 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 will remain in Tier 3 Mitigations, with several likely to meet the metrics to move to Tier 2 in the coming days if current trends hold.
Restaurants and bars in Regions in Tier 1 can open indoor dining with capacity limited to the lesser of 25 people or 25 percent of room capacity. Additionally, establishments must serve food and indoor tables must be limited to no more than four people, with reservations limited to two hours. Outdoor dining regulations across the resurgence plan and Phase 4 remain unchanged.
The Illinois Restaurant Association (IRA) responded to Pritzker's announcement.
IRA President and CEO Sam Toia said in a statement, "We are appreciative of the dialogue with Governor Pritzker and his team. While every step towards reopening helps, today's announcement falls short of the restaurant industry's critical needs and expectations. As outlined, restaurants in all of our state's regions will remain closed for indoor dining until they reach Tier 1adding to growing debt, devastating job loss, and business closures.
"Additionally, the restaurants located in Tier 1 regions able to offer limited indoor dining can do so only at the lesser of 25 percent capacity, or 25 total guests per room. No restaurant can break even at that volume, let alone hire back their team members. As one of the most highly regulated industries in terms of health and safetyand with enhanced measures introduced during COVID-19Illinois restaurants know how to protect the well-being of their guests and team members. They are capable of safely serving more guests than what the state will currently allow, and they need more to survive this crisis. For the sake of the nearly 100,000 restaurant industry workers who lost their jobs between February and November, we urge the state to revisit this strategy and place more faith in the industry that for so long has served as Illinois' largest private sector employer.
"The IRA will continue to press for more pragmatic reopening regulations in addition to greater support and relief for Illinois restaurants and hospitality businesses."