The Illinois Department of Public Health announced Saturday that Region 11, which includes Chicago, is poised to move to Phase 4 of coronavirus mitigations if metrics continue to improve.
If Chicago metrics continue moving in the same direction over the next 24 hours, health officials said the city could move to Phase 4 of restrictions by Sunday.
However, the city of Chicago won't permit bars and restaurants to increase indoor dining capacity even though Illinois health officials are expected to ease restrictions in the city as a result of progress in the fight against COVID-19, city officials announced.
Under Tier 1 mitigations, indoor service is limited to lesser of 25% or 25 persons per room, no tables exceeding four people are permitted indoors and indoor service must be suspended if an establishment is not serving food. Additionally, all bars and restaurants must close at 11 p.m., and reservations are required for all parties.
When Chicago shifts to Phase 4, the following regulations will be in place:
- Indoor dining and indoor events will remain limited to the lesser of 25% capacity or 25 people per space
- Most other industries will be limited to the lesser of 40% capacity or 50 people
- Bar seating will be allowed and indoor table size can increase to six people
- Non-essential business curfew will be repealed
- Bars and restaurants will be able to extend operating hours to midnight, with no alcohol service after 11 p.m.
Chicago could move to the next level of restrictions, Phase 4, if the test positivity rate is below 6.5% percent for three consecutive days, at least 20% of staffed intensive care unit hospital beds are available and no sustained increase in hospitalized COVID patients is reported for seven out of 10 days.
As of Saturday, the city's COVID-19 case rate was 6.4% with 10 days of hospitalized coronavirus patients, according to IDPH. The state's data showed 27% of ICU beds are available as of Saturday.
In a news release, city officials stated that while numbers continue to decline, they claim a "hurried return to greater indoor capacity would bring serious risk" of reducing the progress that has been made.
"We have just resumed safe indoor dining, and while we are excited to make that move we must continue to be thoughtful and cautious in our reopening," Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said in the news release. "The last thing we want is to cause a third wave of the virus by rushing to fully reopen riskier settings where masks are removed and people gather in close proximity.”
Additionally, health officials stated it is "standard public health practice" to monitor the impact of any significant mitigation change for a minimum of two weeks, noting Chicago returned to indoor dining less than a week earlier.
Illinois health officials on Saturday reported 3,345 new cases of COVID-19 as well as 65 additional deaths attributed to the virus.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, Friday's new cases brought the statewide total number of confirmed cases to 1,123,873 since the pandemic began. The fatalities reported Friday lifted the death toll to 19,203.
In the last 24 hours, Illinois officials said 107,802 test specimens were returned to state laboratories, putting the state at 15,952,421 tests performed during the pandemic.
The seven-day rolling positivity rate on all tests was 4%, remaining the same from the day before. The positivity rate for unique individuals tested dropped slightly to 5.1% Saturday.