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FAQ: Tier 3 restrictions in Illinois starting Friday: What is closed, open and how does it end?

What you need to know about the Tier 3 COVID-19 mitigations

A testing site worker talks with a driver Nov. 5 during a mobile COVID-19 testing event outside the Elks Lodge in Dixon. The event offered free nasal swab tests to anyone who arrived at the event.

Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health announced that starting Friday, the entire state will be moved to Tier 3 mitigation measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19. This comes as the state is seeing its highest level of hospitalizations for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

Here is what you need to know:

What is closed?

A slew of industries are affected by this order. Casinos, indoor video gambling terminals, museums, theaters, indoor recreation centers, indoor youth/club and adult recreation sports and certain personal care services, such as facials and beard trimmings, are shut down.

So, no travel sports for my kid who plays an indoor sport?

Correct. And Pritzker and the IDPH will not be attending Thursday’s IHSA board meeting, either.

"As you saw today with the Tier 3 mitigations, we obviously are asking people not to have youth sports operating in any significant fashion," Pritzker said.

What is limited, and what is open?

What makes Tier 3 different from the stay-at-home order in the spring is that some industries can remain open with limitations.

"Retail stores and personal services where you can keep your mask on will remain open at limited capacities," Pritzker said. "Gyms can allow individuals to schedule workouts if they wear masks. Schools [and] day cares can choose to remain open."

Retail stores, including "big box" general merchandise stores, can remain open at 25% capacity. Grocery stores and pharmacies can remain open at 50% capacity.

You still can work out, too. But health and fitness centers must operate at 25% capacity with reservations required, face coverings required at all times and closed locker rooms. Additionally, no indoor group classes are allowed.

Can I still get my hair cut?

Yes. Personal care services can remain open at 25% capacity or 25 clients, whichever is fewer. Face coverings must be worn at all times. That means any services that require the mask to be removed – such as a beard trimming – are prohibited.

Is the indoor dining ban still in effect?

Yes. Outdoor dining, carryout and delivery are the only food services allowed.

When does this end?

It's not when, but how. As Pritzker said, these mitigations are "bounded by the numbers."

The duration of the mitigation measures also does not depend on how the entire state is reacting to the mitigation measures. While the entire state moves to Tier 3 on Friday, each of the individual 11 health care regions can move to Tier 2 independently of other regions if their metrics improve.

In order for a region to move back to Tier 2 mitigation measures, it must reach all three of these metrics:

• Experience a seven-day average test positivity rate of less than a 12% for three consecutive days.

• Have intensive care unit and hospital bed availability that is greater than 20% for three consecutive days.

• Demonstrate a declining seven-day average of COVID-19 hospitalizations for seven out of the past 10 days.

All that said, IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said these new mitigation measures mean nothing if people don't follow them.

"First of all, implementing mitigation, putting words on a paper, saying we’re supposed to do this, we’re supposed to do that, that does absolutely nothing to interrupt infection and interrupt disease transmission," she said. "It is the individual people that have to adhere to those words on the paper, that have to fulfill the words on the paper, that will actually make a difference."

When does this really end?

As in, normal life resuming? Pritzker and Ezike briefly addressed two vaccine candidates that in their interim analysis claimed more than 90% efficacy against COVID-19: Pfizer and Moderna.

Ezike said she didn't want to over-promise and under-deliver, but the latest she heard was that Pfizer was a week or two away from submitting to the Food and Drug Administration for approval. Moderna could go before the FDA at the beginning of December.

The review process could take two to four weeks before approval.

If everything goes right? "We could have the Pfizer vaccine by the end of December. Moderna could be at the beginning of January," Ezike said.

After that, there still are questions about the distribution of the vaccine to people all across the state, but those will be addressed at a later date.

John Sahly

John Sahly

John Sahly is the digital editor for the Shaw Local News Network. He has been with Shaw Media since 2008, previously serving as the Northwest Herald's digital editor, and the Daily Chronicle sports editor and sports reporter.