GALENA, Ill. -- Gov. J.B. Pritzker today announced more stringent COVID-19 mitigation measures for the northwestern part of the state, including Jo Daviess County.
The new rules will go into effect on Sunday, Oct. 25, and include reducing the maximum party size at bar or restaurant tables from 10 to six people and reducing the maximum size of an indoor or outdoor "gathering" to 10 people, down from the current 25.
"Northwestern Illinois has continued to see a surging positivity rate, now up to 11.9%," the governor said. “We’ve said all along that if things don’t turn around in a region after two weeks of resurgence mitigations, we may need to add more stringent measures to help usher in the progress that we need to see, to get things more open again eventually.”
Additional COVID-19 restrictions were placed on the nine-county area on Oct. 3 after it had a seven-day positivity rate of 8% or above for three consecutive days, meeting a threshold set for establishing mitigation measures under the state’s Restore Illinois Resurgence Plan.
Under those restrictions, bars and restaurants must close by 11 p.m. and cannot open earlier than 6 a.m. the following day. And meetings and social gatherings, both indoors and outdoors, are limited to the lesser of 25 guests or 25% of room capacity.
The state restrictions were to be lifted when the region’s positivity rate averaged less than or equal to 6.5% over a three-day period, according to state guidelines.
But that hasn't happened, and additional restrictions are being implemented because the positivity rate is not falling, the governor said today.
The reduction of gatherings to no more than 10 people will apply to "profesional, religious, cultural and social group gatherings" but not to in-person classes at schools.
The more-stringent restrictions are being put in place even as the governor acknowledged the challenges facing northwest Illinois, saying it is one of the regions that "carry the additional responsibility of navigating a situation where the massive surge of cases in our neighboring states will continue to have a spillover effect. There is no easy fix."
The Galena Area Chamber of Commerce sent out an alert this afternoon about the coming restrictions.
It concluded with, "Pritzker also said the Illinois State Police will issue citations to businesses which do not comply with the executive order, and the state will look at revoking liquor and gaming licenses."
The number of statewide cases of COVID-19 set another single-day record today, with 4,942, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. There were 44 additional deaths, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 9,387, among 360,159 confirmed infections.
Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot today announced that businesses in the city will have to close by 10 p.m. and residents are asked to limit gatherings to six people as the number of newly confirmed coronavirus cases among residents continues to rise.
"We are — no doubt whatsoever — in a second surge," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said. "This is what it looks like."
Lightfoot also announced that bars without food licenses must stop serving customers indoors and liquor sales citywide must end at 9 p.m. The curfew doesn't apply to grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and other essential businesses.
All of the changes take effect Friday.