CHICAGO — Coronavirus safety restrictions on Chicago and other regions of Illinois could start being lifted Jan. 15, Gov. JB Pritzker said Wednesday.
All of Illinois has been under Tier 3 mitigations since Nov. 20. Those rules barred indoor service at bars and restaurants; put tighter limits on how many people can be inside shops, gyms and other businesses; and closed large institutions, like theaters and museums, among other things.
But if Illinois’ 11 regions continue to regain control over their COVID-19 outbreaks — and if they can avoid post-holiday bumps from Christmas and New Year’s Eve — then some of the state’s restrictions could be peeled back, Pritzker said.
“Illinois did not experience the post-Thanksgiving uptick at a rate that plagued most of the rest of the country, and we’re watching closely in this incubation period post-Christmas and -New Year’s,” Pritzker said at a Wednesday coronavirus update. “I’m cautiously optimistic as there are some early signs that some regions have made real progress and won’t reverse that progress … .”
Regions will be moved to Tier 2 or 1 mitigations, or even possibly Phase 4, depending on their individual metrics, Pritzker said.
To move down to Tier 2, a region must have a positivity rate of less than 12 percent for three consecutive days, declining COVID-19 hospitalizations for seven out of the past 10 days and more than 20 percent of its ICU and hospital beds available.
Regions’ metrics can be tracked online.
Illinois has seen sharp decreases in its daily new cases and positivity rates. Deaths and hospitalizations remain far higher than they were in the summer, but they have also fallen in recent weeks.
But in recent days, those numbers have inched up statewide and in Chicago. Pritzker said it’s too early to tell if that means there is a bump happening in Illinois.
Still, Chicago has had 11 consecutive days with its positivity rate under 12 percent, 10 days of decreasing hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients and four days of its hospital and ICU beds meeting the state’s requirement. That would mean the region is in line to see at last some restrictions lifted.
Pritzker said officials want to keep an eye on those metrics until Jan. 15 — when a full “incubation period” of 14 days will have passed — to ensure there’s no post-holiday bump.
“My prayer for the new year is that everyone stays healthy and all of our regions continue to move in the right direction,” Pritzker said.
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