Cook County Department of Public Health officials announced Friday they are loosening restrictions on outdoor businesses and social gatherings despite an increase in COVID-19 cases and illnesses.
“We continue to make progress in some of the metrics, however, we have seen a recent increase in cases in suburban Cook County,” said Dr. Kiran Joshi, senior medical officer and co-lead of the Cook County Department of Public Health.
The daily case rate in suburban Cook County has increased more than 40% since last week and the county has seen nine days of increasing hospital bed usage, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
“To be able to cautiously reopen businesses, we must continue to protect the safety and health of everyone around us by getting vaccinated when it’s your turn, wearing a mask, watching your social distance and washing your hands,” Joshi said.
The loosening of restrictions in suburban Cook County mirrors those announced a day earlier by the city.
Under the new rules, which take effect Friday, up to 10 people can be seated outdoors at restaurants as long as tables are spaced 6 feet apart. Indoor dining remains capped at 50 people or 50% of capacity per room, whichever is less. Masks must be worn when customers are not eating or drinking.
Up to 100 people can now attend outdoor social events, including weddings, or 50% of the space’s normal capacity, according to the rules. Indoor gatherings remain capped at 50% capacity or 50 people, whichever is less.
Outdoor fitness classes can increase to 100 people maximum, while indoor classes can increase to 50 people per room or 50% a room’s capacity, whichever is less, as long as face coverings are worn at all times and participants are spaced at least 6 feet apart, according to the rules.
Outdoor venues with a normal capacity of 200 people or more can operate at 25% capacity, under the new rules, while smaller venues are limited to no more than 50% capacity or 50 people, according to the rules.
Zoos and outdoor amusement parks can open at 25% capacity, according to the new rules.