Pritzker allows Illinois’ Region 1 to move to Tier 2 restrictions, effective immediately

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CHICAGO, Ill. (WTVO) — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced Friday that Regions 1, 2 and 5 meet health metrics to move to Tier 2 mitigations, effective immediately.

Gaming is just one of several industries which will be allowed to resume limited operation under Tier 2 mitigations, which would also allow for movie theaters and museums to reopen.

According to the Illinois Gaming Board, gaming is expected to resume at 8 a.m. on Saturday, January 16th.

Indoor dining at restaurants or bars is still not allowed until the region has a 6.5% positivity rate. As of Thursday, Region 1 was at 8.5%.

Region 1 has been on track to roll back to Tier 2 mitigations after having met criteria set by the Illinois Department of Public Health, including: a lower than 12% test positivity rate for 3 consecutive days; a greater than 20% available ICU and hospital bed availability; and declining COVID-19 hospitalizations in 7 out of the last 10 days.

Faced with an existential crisis to the hospitality industry due to the state’s coronavirus mitigations, the Illinois Restaurant Association has pleaded with Pritzker to allow for indoor dining operation to resume statewide.

In a statement released Thursday, the IRA launched an Open Indoor Dining, Save Illinois Restaurants! campaign imploring the governor to allow some indoor dining with safety measures in place.

The IRA says 1 in 5 hospitality jobs have been lost since February 2020.

Pritzker also announced some encouraging news for bars and restaurants, saying during a news conference that they can resume limited indoor service sooner than the original rules allowed if the COVID-19 metrics continue to improve. Under the new rules, restaurants will be allowed to resume indoor dining at 25% capacity or a maximum 25 customers if the region hits certain benchmarks, including a seven-day average positivity rate below 8% for three straight days.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today reported 6,642 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 123 additional deaths.

The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from January 8–14, 2021 is 6.5%. The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity from January 8–14, 2021 is 7.7%.

Pritzker also said residents who qualify for Phase 1B vaccinations, which includes those over 65, will begin on Monday, January 25th.

The governor said the vaccines will be made available at retail pharmacy chains, Illinois National Guard mobile sites, state-run mass vaccination clinics, hospitals and urgent care locations, doctor’s offices, and large employers.

Winnebago County has been preparing to move into Phase 1B, which includes police and fire personnel, teachers, persons over 65-years-old, some manufacturing, inmates, the postal service, public transit, delivery drivers, grocery store workers, and more, accounting for two-thirds of the county’s population.

The Winnebago County Health Department has set up an online vaccine registration website.

A more easily transmissible COVID-19 variant strain, first detected in the U.K, has been found in Chicago, according to the city.

Pritzker also announced that he has activated 250 members of the Illinois National Guard to protect the state capitol and downtown areas of Springfield following warnings of armed protests ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next week.

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