Planning to invite a small number of friends and family to your home this week to celebrate Thanksgiving? Here are a few things to consider.
Under Illinois’ plan to mitigate a widespread surge in COVID-19 infections, indoor gatherings in people’s homes have been limited to members of the same household.
The new rules went into effect Friday across the state, which is now in Tier 3 of Phase 4 for at least 14 days, at which point the rules could relax, resume or tighten further depending on each region’s positivity rates and hospital capacity metrics, according to the governor’s office.
Phase 5, the final phase in the state’s reopening plan, won’t be reached until a vaccine has been developed, a treatment is readily available or there are no new cases over a sustained period.
On Tuesday, 9,469 new confirmed and probable cases were reported by the llinois Department of Public Health, along with another 125 deaths.
“Our hospitals are under siege by the latest upswing in COVID-19. Thanksgiving this year needs to be different,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday. “For those of you who have not altered your plans, the doctors are asking you to skip the big dinner this year. … Next year we can have the robust Thanksgiving everyone loves to have.”
For those still planning to travel and gather, the state’s top doctor strongly advised people to reconsider their plans and host a virtual dinner.
“If you really decided after all the guidance that this is the right thing – and I’m arguing that it’s not – really commit that you will separate households within that space,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. “Commit if you’re not actively eating or drinking that you will have a mask on in the house. Commit if the weather allows you move everything outdoors.”
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Indoor gatherings aren’t the only thing health officials are worried about.
A week ago, Chicago public health officials advised people to cancel all holiday travel plans amid an alarming rise in COVID-19 infections. The week before that, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Chicagoans “must cancel their traditional Thanksgiving plans.” The city is already under a 30-day stay-at-home advisory.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has doubled down on the no-travel message and is also telling people they should not spend the holiday with those from outside their household.
In addition to prohibiting indoor gatherings of more than one household, Tier 3 also prohibits indoor dining at bars and restaurants across the state — a measure that has drawn the ire of the Illinois Restaurant Association. It also further reduces the maximum capacity at retail stores, including big-box stores, convenience stores, grocery stores and pharmacies.
For a more information about Tier 3, check out the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity FAQ and the mitigation plan itself.