More than three weeks after a region of the state was forced to stop indoor bar and restaurant service, those restrictions are being lifted. Governor J.B. Pritzker says Region 7 has seen its coronavirus positivity rate drop and will return to Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan.
"Last week I said that I was hopeful that Region 7, that’s Will and Kankakee counties, might become a testament to a community’s ability to turn its ship around. I’m very happy to say my hopefulness hasn’t been unwarranted,” the governor said.
The tougher mitigation efforts were put in place August 26. Starting Friday afternoon, indoor service is allowed in those counties along with slightly larger gathering sizes.
The rolling positivity rate fell from above 8% at the end of August to 5.6% now.
"Let that be a testament to the power of a community that embraces doctor-recommended mitigations proven to reduce risk and slow the spread," Pritzker said. "We can’t outrun this virus, but with the tools we know to work – masks, distancing, handwashing, and respect for public health and each other – we can beat it back enough to keep our businesses open and our neighborhoods safer all at once. Don’t let up now, Region 7 – let’s keep this success going.”
"It also shows how quickly the positivity rate can move, in either direction," said Illinois Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike. "Because of the speed in which the rate can change, we must continue to wear our masks, watch our distance, and follow the guidance in Phase 4 of Restore Illinois. It will take all of us working together to get through this.”
Stricter rules remain in place in the Metro East, near St. Louis, where the rate has declined, but not below the level needed to relax the restrictions.