As you may have heard, increased mitigation measures are taking effect in a number of regions across the state, including in our region, to curb the spread of COVID-19. In Region 10, these measures will be implemented beginning at 12:01 a.m. this Wednesday, Oct. 28.
These additional mitigations are being introduced to preserve the health and safety of our residents. COVID-19 positivity rates, both locally and statewide, have climbed to dangerous levels, increasing pressure on our health care workers and putting us all at heightened risk of contracting this deadly illness.
For these reasons, it’s critical that we follow the guidelines set forth by the Illinois Department of Public Health, which are outlined below.
I’m aware these restrictions won’t be easy on our small business community, which is why I have also included information on available assistance for those struggling.
By taking the appropriate precautions to keep ourselves and each other safe, we can bring down our positivity rates and get our region back on track—please continue to wear masks, wash your hands and practice social distancing, and encourage your family members and friends to do the same.
And don’t forget to get a flu shot to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed with COVID-19 and flu patients.
If my office can be of assistance to you during this time, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 847-718-1110 or senatorlauramurphy.com/contact-us.
What will change under the new mitigation measures?
The Illinois Department of Public Health has imposed stricter rules on bars and restaurants, including:
- Bars and restaurants must close at 11 p.m. and may not serve patrons indoors.
- Patrons may not stand or congregate while waiting for a table or exiting.
- All tables should be 6 feet apart, and different parties may not be seated at the same table.
- Reservations are required for each party to assist with contact tracing in case of an outbreak.
Find the full list of resurgence mitigations here.
Where can struggling businesses and employees find assistance?
The State of Illinois has launched a number of programs to provide aid to businesses and restaurants facing pandemic-related losses:
- The Business Interruption Grant program will distribute $220 million to small businesses, with priority given to those in regions under increased mitigations, to use for payroll and other operational costs. Apply now.
- The Illinois Department of Employment Security has instructional videos, FAQs and other resources to help out-of-work Illinoisans apply for unemployment benefits. Learn more.
- Visit an Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for advising and other free resources to help you start, grow and maintain your business. Find an SBDC near you to discuss your options.
- Cook County is offering free webinars and one-on-one advising to small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Explore available resources.
What will happen to bars and restaurants who don’t follow the rules?
Restaurants and bars are among the highest-risk locations for the spread of COVID-19, according to a recent report by the CDC, especially when mask wearing and social distancing are not observed. Establishments who fail to follow these rules are slowing down our recovery, not to mention endangering their customers, their employees and the community at large.
If a restaurant or bar is found to be in violation of COVID-19 prevention guidelines, they may have their operating or liquor licenses revoked by local government officials. Additionally, the Illinois State Police have now been alerted to be on patrol in regions with heightened COVID-19 restrictions and may issue citations; in extreme cases, the state may revoke a business’ liquor license. I encourage business owners to follow the guidelines set forth by the state, and I urge residents to support those businesses trying their best to keep us safe.
How can we get back to Phase 4?
Region 10 will return to Phase 4 mitigations if:
- The positivity rate in Region 10 averages less than or equal to 6.5% over a three-day period,
- There is a decrease in hospital admissions for COVID-19 like illness over a three-day period, and
- The three-day rolling averages of ICU bed availability and medical/surgical bed availability is greater than or equal to 20% over a seven-day period.
Conversely, if the average positivity rate and hospital admissions for COVID-19 continue to increase over seven out of 10 days, more stringent mitigations can be applied. If the metrics remain stable, the region will continue to be monitored.
Please wash your hands, wear a mask and maintain six feet of social distancing to prevent further spread of the virus—and encourage your friends and family to do the same. With your help, we can get our region back to Phase 4, protect our health care workers from becoming overwhelmed, and most importantly, save lives.