January 17, 2021

3 Illinois regions eligible to return to Tier 2 mitigations Friday: What it means

Indoor dining still has to wait, but movie theaters, video gambling may reopen

In anticipation of moving to Tier 2 mitigation measures Friday, some Ottawa restaurants posted on their Facebook pages indoor dining will resume.

Not so fast, La Salle County health officials said. Indoor dining still is not allowed under Tier 2 mitigations.

In order for indoor dining to resume, a health region would have to return to Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan.

On Nov. 20, all 11 health regions statewide entered into Tier 3 mitigations, which further tightened restrictions beyond an indoor dining ban with measures such as setting capacity limits on stores.

Region 2 (which includes La Salle, Bureau, Grundy and Kendall counties), Region 3 (Springfield area) and Region 7 (which includes Will and Kankakee counties) will be eligible to move to Tier 2 or Tier 1 mitigations beginning Friday, depending on their numbers.

What does that mean?

Under Tier 2, movie theaters will be able to reopen, so long as they are limited to less than 25 guests or 25% of their capacity. The Roxy Cinema in Ottawa has already posted it will reopen Friday. When Streator Eagle 6 was asked on Facebook, “When are you all opening for inside seating?” the business responded, “Psst. Friday. We are fired up.”

Indoor gaming will be allowed to resume, but those businesses will be limited to 25% capacity and must close at 11 p.m. The Illinois Gaming Board didn’t respond to questions about whether gaming will be allowed to proceed Friday, and the state agency has not made an announcement.

For a region to move into Tier 2, it needs to meet the following metrics:

1. A seven-day rolling average test positivity rate of less than 12% for three consecutive days.

2. A three day rolling average hospital and intensive care unit bed availability of more than 20% for three consecutive days.

3. A decline in the seven-day rolling average number of people hospitalized for COVID-19-like illness for seven out of the past 10 days.

According to the Restore Illinois plan, a region is eligible to return to Phase 4 if the positivity rate averages less than or equal to 6.5% over a three-day period.

As of Tuesday, Region 1, which includes DeKalb, Lee and Whiteside counties, has had a positivity rate below 12% for 11 days (on target), more than 20% availability of staffed hospital and ICU beds for 11 days (on target), and six days of hospitalizations decreases (one day away from the target of seven).

Region 2 hits all of the targets. Region 8, which includes Kane County, will need another day with more than 20% of hospital and ICU beds available to meet Tier 2 requirements.

Region 9, which includes Lake and McHenry counties, meets the positivity rate target, but it has had no days with greater than 20% availability for hospital and ICU beds and five days of hospitalization decreases (two away from the target of seven) needed to qualify to move into Tier 2.

Derek Barichello

Derek is a Streator High and University of Illinois graduate. He worked at the Albany-Herald in Albany, Ga., and for Sauk Valley Media in Sterling, before returning to his hometown paper. He's now news editor for both the NewsTribune and The Times.