The Illinois Department of Public Health announced on Sunday that the city of Chicago is officially moving to Phase 4 of the Illinois Coronavirus Mitigation Plan thanks to continuous improvements in positivity and hospitalization rates.
According to Phase 4 standards, domestic service can be resumed in bars, with domestic service continuing in restaurants, according to the IDPH website.
The move means that more than half of the state’s healthcare districts have now moved to Phase IV mitigation rules. Most suburban communities remain under Tier 1 mitigation measures, which allow indoor dining but not indoor bar service.
Under normal circumstances, moving to Phase 4 would increase capacity limits at indoor dining establishments, but city officials say restaurants and bars will be required to adhere to Tier 1 limits on these numbers. Indoor service is limited to 25%, 25 people or less per room, with no tables above six customers inside.
Resumption of bar service is also permitted in restaurants and pubs, according to a Chicago press release.
According to the mayor’s office, the “unnecessary” curfew has been lifted in the city under the new regulations.
“We are still seeing significant progress in the ongoing battle against COVID-19, and I am delighted that our metrics continue to move in the right direction,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. “However, while we welcomed the return of internal service at the end of last week, the rush to expand capacity very quickly will be irresponsible. With cases and positivity rates still higher than they were before the second increase, it is now time to keep safeguards in place to ensure progress continues and we hope for Preventing any future decline. “
The city has achieved a cut in mitigation rules by lowering its positivity rate to less than 6.5% for three consecutive days. That number has held steady at 6.4% in recent days, according to IDPH data. Availability of ICU beds in the city has remained steadily above 20% for 11 consecutive days, while the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 has decreased for each of the past 10 days.
When Chicago moves to Stage 4, the following regulations will apply:
- Indoor dining and events will still be limited to less than 25% or 25 people per space
- Most other industries will be limited to 40% less capacity or 50 people
- Bar stools will be permitted and the indoor table size can increase to six people
- The curfew will be canceled for non-essential works
- Bars and restaurants will be able to extend opening hours until midnight, with no alcohol service provided after 11 PM
In a press release, city officials stated that while the numbers continue to decline, they claim that “a quick return to greater internal capacity will bring grave risks” to diminish the progress that has been made.
“We have just resumed safe indoor eating, and while we’re excited to make this move, we must continue to be vigilant and cautious in reopening,” said Dr Alison Araudi, Chicago Public Health Commissioner. . “The last thing we want is to cause a third wave of the virus by rushing to fully reopen more dangerous settings as masks are removed and people congregate in close proximity.”
Additionally, health officials stated that it is a “standard public health practice” to monitor the effect of any significant mitigating change for at least two weeks. Noting that Chicago returned to eating indoors less than a week ago.
Illinois health officials on Saturday reported 3,345 new cases of COVID-19, in addition to an additional 65 deaths attributed to the virus.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the new cases on Friday brought the total number of confirmed cases statewide to 1,123,873 since the pandemic began. The death toll reported on Friday raised the death toll to 19,203.
In the past 24 hours, Illinois officials said 107,802 test samples were brought back into state laboratories, making the state 15,952,421 tests conducted during the pandemic.
The seven-day rotation positive rate across all tests was 4%, and remained the same from the previous day. The positivity rate for individuals who tested decreased slightly to 5.1% on Saturday.