All Illinois regions re-shutdown as cases rise

All+Illinois+regions+re-shutdown+as+cases+rise

Andrea Fasig, Reporter

For quite some time, a second shutdown has been imminent; beginning on Nov. 20, all regions of Illinois will be downgraded to Tier 3 imposing new restrictions across the state just as most students are returning to schools and the largest shopping season of the year is right around the corner.

Speaking on Tuesday, Governor Pritzker did not impose a stay-at-home order however, he did have this to say “To stop this spread and preserve some semblance of the holidays, all of us need to do more than just wear our masks now, though masks are mandatory throughout the state. The simple fact is that COVID-19 is spreading so quickly and so widely, and our hospitals are beginning to experience real strain and at the current infection rate they will be overwhelmed. So whenever possible, we need you to stay home.” 

He went on to warn of the possibility for more restrictions to come adding, “the best way for us to avoid a stay-at-home order is to stay home.”

Bars and restaurants have been closed for indoor service in region 6 since the 2 of November, but Tier 3 will affect the already struggling retail and service industry. Businesses will be lowering their capacity from 50 percent to 25 percent, including “big box” stores and personal services such as barber shops and nail salons. Grocery stores and pharmacies can maintain their 50 percent capacity. 

Area manufacturers will be implementing further COVID-19 educational training and will be required to coordinate with the Illinois Department of Public Health, IDPH.

Although many are still working remotely, Tier 3 urges businesses to allow employees to work remotely as much as possible. 

Gyms and fitness centers will be allowed to stay open, provided they follow the 25 percent occupancy capacity, only accept customers on a reservation basis and cancel all indoor group classes until the Tier 3 limitations are over. 

Anything categorized under “public amusement,” such as museums, movie theatres and aquariums are to be closed however, outdoor recreational activities are allowed with a limit of 10 people at a time.

What do Tier 3 restrictions mean for everyday life? First, and foremost to many parents in the area, schools will be under the jurisdiction of their local school district’s judgement. As of Nov. 20, most school districts outside the Chicago area will remain open, even as the President of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, IFT, Dan Montgomery, released a statement Monday requesting stricter measures.

 “We call on every school district — as well as Governor J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois State Board of Education — to do the right thing and take immediate action,” Montgomery went on to add, “Furthermore, we call on the Governor and IDPH to establish and enforce clear metrics for schools to guide them for any future closures, so that individual districts and school boards can ensure safety within their communities and create plans for executing remote learning or in-person instruction based on science and positivity rate data.”

In all 11 regions, face coverings will be required indoor in public and social distancing of six feet is to be maintained indoors and outdoors. The Tier 3 executive order prohibits all indoor gatherings of more than one household, even those for the Thanksgiving holiday, and sets the limit for outdoor gatherings to 10 people max.   

Each of the 11 Illinois regions are independent of each other and can be promoted to Tier 2 as such. 3 qualifying factors are required for regions to reach Tier 2: Experience a seven-day average test positivity rate of less than a 12 percent for three consecutive days, have the intensive-care unit and hospital bed availability that is greater than 20 percent for three consecutive days and demonstrate a declining seven-day average of COVID-19 hospitalizations for seven out of the past 10 days.

 “It is the individual people that have to adhere to those words on the paper, that have to fulfill the words on the paper, that will actually make a difference,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. 

While its assured this year is going to be different for everyone across the world, following social distancing measures, wearing face coverings and limiting gatherings can help mitigate the spread of this disease and prevent our hospitals and medical professionals from being overwhelmed.

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