Two of Illinois' 11 regions moved to Phase 4 coronavirus mitigations Monday, further loosening restrictions put in place to slow the pandemic's spread.
Region 1 and Region 2 both moved to Phase 4 effective Monday, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced.
Region 1 includes Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside and Winnebago counties, while Region 2 includes Bureau, Fulton, Grundy, Henderson, Henry, Kendall, Knox, La Salle, Livingston, Marshall, McDonough, McLean, Mercer, Peoria, Putnam, Rock Island, Stark, Tazewell, Warren and Woodford counties.
To move from Tier 1 to Phase 4, a region must meet the following criteria:
- Test positivity rate ≤ 6.5% for three consecutive days (7-day average) AND
- Staffed hospital and ICU beds ≥ 20% for three consecutive days (3-day average) AND
- No sustained increase in COVID patients in hospital (7-day average over 7 of 10 days)
Here's a look at the guidelines for Phase 4:
Gatherings: All gatherings of 50 people or fewer are allowed with this limit subject to change based on latest data and guidance
Travel: Travel should follow IDPH and CDC approved guidance
Health care: All health care providers are open
Education and child care: P-12 schools, higher education, all summer programs, and child care open with IDPH approved safety guidance
Outdoor recreation: All outdoor recreation allowed
- Manufacturing: All manufacturing open with IDPH approved safety guidance
- “Non-essential” businesses: All employees can return to work with IDPH approved safety guidance; Employers are encouraged to provide accommodations for COVID-19-vulnerable employees
- Bars and restaurants: Open with capacity limits and IDPH approved safety guidance
- Personal care services and health clubs: All barbershops, salons, spas and health and fitness clubs open with capacity limits and IDPH approved safety guidance
- Entertainment: Cinema and theaters open with capacity limits and IDPH approved safety guidance
- Retail: Open with capacity limits and IDPH approved safety guidance
Regions 1 and 2 now join three other regions - 3, 5 and 6 - in the least restrictive of the mitigation levels currently available under the state's system.
State health officials announced last week that all 11 of Illinois' regions are now out of Tier 3, the most restrictive of the mitigation levels that was implemented statewide in late November amid a second wave of the pandemic.
Tier 3 suspended indoor dining across Illinois and closed down museums and casinos, among other mitigations which lasted through the holiday season. Pritzker announced earlier this month that regions could begin to lift those most stringent restrictions on Jan. 15 if they met the criteria.
“With all regions of Illinois now out of Tier 3, we can now see that the entire state is headed down the right path,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Friday. “During the summer, we were on this same path. We know that we must continue to take precautions and be smart about how we relax some of the mitigation measures, which are in place to protect our health and safety.”
The health department plans to "closely monitor test positivity, ICU bed availability, and the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19" for all regions and if numbers begin trending in the wrong direction, regions could see increased mitigations return.
For a full breakdown of what's allowed in each tier click here.