State-Imposed COVID-19 Restrictions Lifted in Suburban Cook County

(Free-Photos / Pixabay)(Free-Photos / Pixabay)

State-imposed restrictions designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 in suburban Cook County were lifted on Tuesday, state health officials announced.

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Suburban Cook County, known as Region 10 under the state’s reopening plan, has recorded three consecutive days in which the coronavirus test positivity rate was less than 6.5%, based on the seven-day rolling average, according to data compiled by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

In addition, there has been no increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations for seven out of the past 10 days in suburban Cook County and more than 20% of the region’s intensive care and hospital beds are available, according to state data.

However, Cook County Department of Public Health officials issued an order hours after the state’s announcement that will prevent indoor dining and drinking at bars and restaurants to operate at an expanded capacity, following the lead set by Chicago officials last week.

Indoor dining and drinking at bars and restaurants were allowed to reopen at a limited capacity on Jan. 23 in both Chicago and suburban Cook County. Not enough time has passed to determine whether that decision has increased the spread of COVID-19, officials said. Infections of the virus can take up to 14 days to develop.

In Chicago and suburban Cook County, indoor dining and drinking will remain limited to a capacity of no more than 25 people or 25% of overall room capacity, whichever is less, as long as tables of no more than six people are kept 6 feet away from each other. In addition, bars must serve food, according to the rules.

Bars without a food service license can reopen as long as they partner with an eatery or allow delivery in both Chicago and suburban Cook County. 

Indoor fitness classes in Chicago and Cook County remain capped at no more than 15 people, while outdoor classes can offer spots for 50 individuals.

Under what state officials refer to as Phase 4, restaurants and bars must space tables of no more than 10 people at least 6 feet apart and require masks to be worn as much as possible, and limit capacity to 50% or 50 people, whichever is less. 

Under Phase 4, most other businesses will also be required to operate at 50% capacity or no more than 50 people. whichever is less, including indoor fitness classes. 

In addition, all gatherings of 50 people or fewer are allowed as long as social distancing rules are observed and masks are worn.

With suburban Cook County moving to Phase 4, it now joins Chicago under the lowest level of state-imposed restrictions since the beginning of October and before the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic swept the state, peaking in mid-November.

Chicago officials no longer require nonessential businesses to close to the public between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. However, bars and restaurants must stop alcohol sales at 11 p.m. and close at midnight to on-site customers. All to-go alcohol sales must continue to stop at 9 p.m. under city rules.

DuPage and Kane counties, known as Region 8 in the state’s plan, and Lake and McHenry counties, known as Region 9, could move to Phase 4 on Wednesday, according to state data.

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | hche[email protected]

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