Rockford, Illinois News

Pritzker rolls back COVID-19 restrictions in Metro East

METRO EAST — Beginning on Tuesday in the Metro East area there won’t be any dancing or standing inside bars and restaurants allowed, and any group meetings or social events must be kept to no more than 25 people.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Region 4 of his revised “Restore Illinois” plan in the wake of COVID-19 is reverting back to more restrictions because the region met “resurgence criteria” with three days of 8 percent positive COVID-19 cases.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I have made it clear that neither arbitrary dates on a calendar nor political pressure will dictate Illinois’ efforts to protect our people,” Pritzker said in a statement Sunday afternoon. “If the data shows we need to go backwards in our reopening, I won’t hesitate to tighten restrictions to protect our collective health.”

He said he made clear the trend of 8 percent positivity, which is the number of positive cases per the total number of tests done in a 24-hour period, was for three days in a row.

The region which includes Bond, Clinton, Madison, Monroe, Randolph, St. Clair and Washington counties has had increases and decreases in hospitalizations. A chart on the IDPH website shows the region had three to four “COVID-like illness admission” a day. The region also has 43 percent of ICU beds available and 32 percent of surgical beds available.

State Sen. Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo, said the governor’s decision for more restrictions is “arbitrary and misguided” and “come at the worst possible time as communities are attempting to resume school and rebuild their businesses.”

“COVID-19 hospitalization rates in these counties remain low with no threat of exceeding medical capacity,” Schimpf said. “Nevertheless, the Governor has decided that bar stools, reception halls, and groups of 26 or more people are not allowed for the next fourteen days.”

Schimpf represents Senate District 58 which includes parts of Region 4.

“These new restrictions represent an absurd attempt to show that he is ‘doing something’, but in reality will do little more than to wreak further economic havoc on the families of this region,” he said.

Just last week in a twelve-member rules committee Schimpf joined a motion that failed to get Democratic support to suspend Pritzker’s rules that allow for up to $2,500 fines against a business for not following the governor’s social distancing guidelines. Those rules that are in effect for the next five months also require businesses to ask customers to put on a face covering.

A statement from the governor’s office said things could get more strict.

“These measures will remain in effect over a 14-day period after which time more stringent mitigation measures, such as the closing of indoor bars and dining, can be implemented if metrics do not improve,” the governor’s office said.

Other restrictions the governor laid out that will take effect Tuesday include all bars closing at 11 p.m., reception halls closed, no party buses, reservations only for restaurants, no indoor dining greater than six per party, and the “removal of bar stools.”

Since the pandemic began, there have been more than 3.3 million COVID-19 tests performed with over 206,000 confirmed cases. More than 7,700 people have died from COVID-19. The state also reports a 95 percent recovery rate from the disease.

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