Downstate county to restart indoor dining despite state’s restrictions


(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

SANGAMON COUNTY, Ill. – A downstate county is defying state health guidelines by restarting indoor dining, citing improved COVID-19 metrics.

Sangamon County, where Springfield is located, will resume indoor dining at 25% capacity on Jan. 3. This will be against the state’s current COVID-19 restrictions, which banned indoor dining again in October.

“Our community has made substantial progress from early November to now. In mid-November, cases averaged over 300 new cases per day. Currently, we are averaging fewer than 80 per day and the 7 day rolling average of positivity has fallen from 16.8% on 11/14/20 to 5.7% on 12/26/20. The critical reopening metric to allow relaxation of the level of mitigation for our community is achieving a 7-day rolling average positivity of 6.5% for seven consecutive days,” the health department said.

The department noted that their hospital bed availability has been over the 20% threshold suggested by IDPH.

The following is rules posted by the department, according to a press release.

Continued Social Distancing

For those customers being served indoors, a reservation name and phone number for one person in the group must be kept for 30 days and available to the County upon request.

Establishments must ensure that all customers only consume food or drink while seated at a table (not a bar or countertop). The number of customers seated at one table shall be limited to ten persons, and unrelated groups of customers (i.e., those not from the same household/party) shall not be seated at the same table. All seated customers must be seated at their table so that they are at least six feet away from: (a) any other customer seated at any other table; and (b) any other patron service area. In lieu of compliance with this six-foot rule, the establishment may use physical barriers to separate a customer seated at their table from customers seated at other tables and from other patron service areas.

Establishments shall not allow customers to sit at bars or countertops.

Orders for food and drink may be taken and fulfilled at a counter or bar and payment for the food and drink accepted, but only if 6-foot social distancing guidelines are followed with the use of recommended face coverings.

Establishments shall not allow customers to consume food or drink while they are standing.

To the extent possible, patrons must wait for services off-premises, either outdoors and maintaining a social distance of 6-ft with the use of recommended face coverings or in their vehicles. Patrons can remain in the waiting area but should adhere to 6-ft distancing guidelines.

Hours of Operation

Establishments may not begin serving the public until 6:00 a.m. Establishments must cease indoor service by 9:00 p.m., and no customers shall remain in the indoor serving areas after 9:30 p.m. Previous orders and guidelines related to outdoor dining will remain in effect.

Face Coverings

Establishments must have an adequate supply of face coverings for staff, as well as a policy and training for staff to wear their face coverings. Employees must wear face coverings over their nose and mouth. Establishments shall ensure that all customers wear face coverings over their nose and mouth while they are in the indoor public areas but not seated indoors with their own household/party.

Hand Washing and Sanitizing Stations

Hand-washing sinks must be accessible, functional with hot and cold running water, and fully stocked with soap, hand drying devices, and waste cans. Hand sanitizing stations must be provided, as appropriate, in multiple locations to encourage hand hygiene by both patrons and employees to supplement hand washing. Train and remind employees of effective hand hygiene practices, including washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Live Music/Dancing

Indoor live music is prohibited. Further, irrespective of the source of the accompanying music, neither Karaoke nor dancing is permitted.


If existing windows in the areas tables are provided for customers use are operable, they must each be opened one inch to increase the volume of fresh air entering the building while the area is open for use by the public. The establishments’ existing HVAC equipment shall be operated at maximum capacity for the purpose of exchanging the air in the indoor public areas tables are provided for customers use.

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