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Illinois To Close Casinos, Slash Store Capacity, Stop Indoor Sports As Coronavirus Surges Across State

Without mitigations, daily deaths from COVID-19 could soon match the spring wave — or even go four or five times past it, Gov. JB Pritzker said.

A 'Face Mask Required" sign in an Argyle street store's doorway, seen on November 12, 2020. That afternoon, Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a stay-at-home advisory starting November 17.
Woojae Julia Song for Block Club Chicago/CatchLight
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CHICAGO — New restrictions are coming to businesses across Illinois as coronavirus cases throughout the state surge.

The restrictions mean museums, casinos and theaters must close; retail stores must cut capacity; gyms and salons can have fewer customers inside at a time and indoor sports must stop.

Gov. JB Pritzker announced the state will implement the restrictions starting Friday. He hopes the stricter rules will help Illinois bend its curve without needing to implement a stay at home order even as new cases, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 have skyrocketed.

The state reported 12,601 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the past day with 97 deaths. At least 10,875 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois.

The state is already seeing more people hospitalized with COVID-19 than it did during the spring peak, Pritzker said, and models show Illinois could see four to five times as many coronavirus patients hospitalized at once as it did in the spring.

And daily deaths from COVID-19 could soon match the spring wave — or even go four or five times past it, Pritzker said.

Without mitigations, all of the modelers agree the pandemic “will continue to escalate” through December, Pritzker said. The projections show 17,000-45,000 more Illinoisans could die from COVID-19 between now and March 1.

“We can’t let that happen,” Pritzker said. “But we can change our longer-term outcome. We can save potentially thousands of lives in the next few months if we make changes right now to stop this in its tracks.”

The state restrictions are similar to ones the state saw in the spring, but are slightly less rigid. Retail stores, salons and gyms will be able to remain open with capacity limits and mask requirements.

But the rules are only as effective as people allow them to be, said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health. She urged everyone to follow the new restrictions, wear masks, practice social distancing and avoid gatherings of people to slow the virus’s spread.

“The second wave is now here. But it’s not only here; it’s more dire than what we saw in the spring,” Ezike said. “To slow the spread of the virus and to help prevent more cases, more hospitalizations [and] more deaths, more mitigation measures are being implemented.

“The science is there and it’s pretty simple: If you’re not in the physical presence of other people, the virus can’t spread to someone else. It can and will spread at a party. It can and will spread at a dining establishment. It can and will spread at a large Thanksgiving gathering. It can and will spread at a wedding. And it can and will and has spread at funerals.”

Pritzker also urged Illinoisans to keep following the mitigations so the state can get past the new “COVID storm” and enjoy safer holidays this winter.

“To slow the spread and until we can begin to bring down the infection rate, you should not attend dinners, events, gatherings or meetings beyond your own household,” Pritzker said. “This is a temporary set of rules designed by doctors to keep you safe.

“To be very clear, we are relying on you here. … We’re asking people to hold themselves and each other accountable. The more we can avoid gatherings now, especially indoors with the people we don’t already live with, the more likely we are to be able to celebrate the December holidays with less risk for our loved ones and ourselves. Tier 3 boils down to this: If you don’t need to do it, don’t.”

Pritzker said he hopes these changes will help the state avoid another stay at home order, but if positivity rates continue to soar, he said he would once again implement one.

Businesses negatively impacted by the restrictions can apply for the state’s Business Interruption Grant program online.

Here are the rules beginning Friday:

Retail (including service counters)

  • Operate at no more than 25 percent capacity, including general merchandise stores, “big box” stores that offer groceries and pharmacy, and convenience stores.
  • Grocery stores and pharmacies may operate at up to 50 percent capacity.
  • Encourage delivery or curbside pickup options wherever possible.
  • When in-store shopping is necessary, promote efficient trips and consistent circulation.

Personal Care Service

  • Operate at 25 clients or 25 percent capacity, whichever is fewer.
  • Face coverings must be worn at all times by clients and service providers.
  • Services where a face covering cannot be worn (e.g. facials, beard trims) are suspended.
  • Physical, occupational and massage therapy allowed as deemed necessary by a medical provider, but appointments must be spaced apart by a minimum of 15 minutes and facilities should take steps to sanitize and circulate clean air through service rooms before and after each service.
  • Virtual consultations recommended.

Health and Fitness Centers

  • Operate at no more than 25 percent capacity.
  • No indoor group classes.
  • Face coverings must be worn at all times, including while engaged in individual exercise regardless of person or machine spacing.
  • Reservations required.
  • Locker room areas should be closed.


  • Hotel room occupancy should be limited to registered guests only, with the maximum allowance being the number of individuals permissible per existing fire code for each applicable guest room.
  • Fitness centers should be closed, or operated only on a reservation model, with capacity limited to 25 percent of the maximum occupancy for the room.
  • Grab-and-go food allowed.
  • Event and meeting spaces closed.


  • Additional COVID training for all employees required even if previous training occurred.
  • Operators should coordinate with the Illinois Department of Public Health to implement testing protocols and contact tracing, upon request, consistent with available testing supplies.
  • All employees must wear face coverings at all times unless eating or drinking. Exemptions only for safety purposes.
  • Only manufacturing staff and key personnel allowed in facilities. Non-production employees must work remotely. Non-essential staff and visitors are not permitted. Exemptions only for critical equipment repairs, supply deliveries and safety reasons (“critical visitors”).
  • All critical visitors must have an Employee Health and Safety-approved risk-assessment done in advance, including travel history, tracking, and temperature check prior to entrance.
  • Implement additional workstation realignment when feasible
  • Stagger and space shifts, and designate shift entrances and exits (when possible) to minimize interactions of employees across unique shift groupings.
  • Station sanitation required at beginning and ending of shifts.
  • Operators must suspend COVID-related incentive pay and promote staying home when sick or showing symptoms.
  • Implement temporary leave policies to accommodate workers who are sick.
  • Develop and implement safety protocols for employee travel vans to promote spacing, require face coverings, temperature checks, air circulation, and vehicle sanitization.

Bars and Restaurants

  • All bars and restaurants close at 11 p.m. and may reopen no earlier than 6 a.m. the following day.
  • No indoor service.
  • All bar and restaurant patrons should be seated at tables outside.
  • No ordering, seating or congregating at bar (bar stools should be removed).
  • Tables should be 6 feet apart.
  • No standing or congregating outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting.
  • No dancing or standing indoors.
  • No tables exceeding 6 people.
  • Reservations required for each party.
  • No seating of multiple parties at one table.
  • Indoor gaming terminals must suspend operations.
  • Includes private clubs and country clubs.

Meetings, social events and gatherings (including weddings, potlucks, etc.)

  • Limit in-home gatherings to household members.
  • Meeting rooms, banquet centers, private party rooms, private clubs and country clubs may not host gatherings.
  • No party buses.
  • Funerals are limited to 10 family members of the decedents, not including staff.


  • All employees who can work remotely should work remotely.

Organized group recreational activities (sports, indoor sports and activity facilities, etc.)

  • Pause all indoor group sporting and recreational activities including youth and adult recreational sports, individual training may remain (with facility reservation).
  • Includes park districts and travel leagues.
  • Outdoor sports and recreation allowed.
  • Participant groups and practices outdoors limited to 10 persons or less with social distancing.
  • Face coverings required for all activities at all times.
  • Locker rooms should be closed.

Indoor recreation, theaters, cultural institutions (e.g. casinos, bowling, arcades, movie theaters, museums and zoos)

  • Gaming and casinos close.
  • Indoor recreation centers, including theaters, performing arts centers and indoor museums and amusement centers close.
  • Live streaming of performances encouraged with social distancing of performers and minimum operational staff.
  • Outdoor activities allowed at 25 percent capacity or less.
  • Outdoor group activities limited to 10 persons or fewer, participants/guests must wear face coverings at all times.
  • Reservations required for each guest for outdoor activities.

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