September 27, 2022
Coronavirus

How does indoor dining reopen in Illinois?

Here are the metrics each region needs to hit to reopen bars and restaurants for indoor service

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced Friday that three health regions in the state, 1, 2 and 5, will have some COVID-19 mitigations lifted effective immediately.

That will not, however, include lifting the ban on indoor dining, Pritzker confirmed in a news conference Friday. That only will come into play for regions that advance to Tier 1 of the state’s mitigations.

“Clearly some progress has been made to combat this virus but I want to stress that it’s incredibly important for Illinoisans to not let their guard down,” Pritzker said.

So how does a region get to legally reopen indoor dining?

Meet the metrics.

First, a region has to make it out of Tier 3 and into Tier 2.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Restore Illinois plan, the only regional areas in the state that will have restrictions lifted Friday are Regions 1, 2 (North Central Illinois, which includes La Salle and Kendall counties west to Mercer), and 5 (southern Illinois, which includes Marion south to Alexander).

Those three regions met criteria for lifted restrictions: a region must experience the following three metrics: have less than 12% test positivity rate for three consecutive days, have greater than 20% available intensive care unit and hospital bed availability and have declining COVID-19 hospitalizations in seven out of the past 10 days.

Finally, a region has to advance from Tier 2 to Tier 1 by meeting these thresholds:

1. A test positivity rate below 8% for three consecutive days, as measured by the seven-day rolling average

2. Greater than or equal to 20% available staffed ICU and medical/surgical hospital beds for three consecutive days, on a three-day rolling average

3. No sustained increase in the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 for seven out of 10 days, on a 7-day average

At that point, limited indoor dining can reopen, with capacity at the lesser of 25 people or 25% capacity per room, with tables of no more than four people.

Capacity for indoor dining can be expanded when a region makes it out of Tier 1 and back into Phase 4.

Those metrics are:

1. A test positivity rate less than or equal to 6.5% for three consecutive days, as measured by the seven-day rolling average

2. Greater than or equal to 20% available staffed ICU and medical/surgical hospital beds for three consecutive days, on a three-day rolling average

3. No sustained increase in the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 for seven out of 10 days, on a seven-day average

Pritzker also addressed the mounting frustration by bar and restaurant owners unable to serve indoors, according to the Restore Illinois plan. On Nov. 20, because of case number resurgence throughout the state, Pritzker issued a statewide order to return to Tier 3 mitigations, which included prohibiting indoor dining.

“Bar and restaurants have carried an extremely heavy burden through no fault of their own,” Pritzker said. “There are adjustments that we can make in order to help these operate more safely.”

State Rep. Jeff Keicher, R-Sycamore, issued comment on the matter Friday, urging the governor to find a solution to allow for indoor dining immediately.

“Eating and drinking establishments across the state lost 31,000 jobs in November alone,” Keicher wrote Friday in a social media post. “We can find safe and sustainable solutions to keep Illinoisans employed and local businesses open. I am urging the Governor to work in partnership with those of us in the state legislature to save and bring back as many jobs as possible in our food and beverage industry.”

Keicher’s post also shared a statement from the Illinois Restaurant Association demanding the governor reopen indoor dining immediately.

The governor said as a result of mitigations, which appear to have slowed the statewide fall resurgence of COVID-19, the IDPH has in turn been able to adjust mitigation efforts to ensure hospitals aren’t overburdened and business are able to maintain their livelihood.

Regions moving to Tier 1 also will have capacity on all general gatherings opened to 25 people.

“Any regions that meet the criteria for Tier 1 will be able to allow restaurants and bars that serve food to operate indoors at 25% capacity per room with tables of no more than four people,” Pritzker said. “And of course any regions that move ... out of Tier 1 can resume some greater indoor operations as long as tables are kept 6 feet apart, just like last summer.”


Kelsey Rettke

Kelsey Rettke

Kelsey Rettke is the editor of the Daily Chronicle, part of Shaw Media and DeKalb County's only daily newspaper devoted to local news, crime and courts, government, business, sports and community coverage. Kelsey also covers breaking news for Shaw Media Local News Network.