If you live in a professionally managed building in Chicago, you may soon have a limit on how many guests you can have over at once.
That's because city officials are asking residential property managers to limit guest entry to five people per unit "to avoid indoor gatherings and parties" as part of a new slate of restrictions announced Monday in an effort to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Also included in the announcement from Mayor Lori Lightfoot: Bars will no longer be allowed to serve patrons indoors, class sizes at gyms will be reduced to 10 people and salons will not be allowed to perform services that require the removal of face coverings, among other changes.
The restrictions will go into effect beginning Friday at 12:01 a.m., the city said, in order to allow businesses time to prepare.
Lightfoot's office and Chicago health officials did not immediately respond to a request on whether the new guideline on guest limits for property managers would be mandatory or if each building would be able to choose whether or not to opt in.
“We have made so much progress here in Chicago in containing the spread of the virus, protecting our health system and saving lives, and in general, the virus remains under control locally. But we are again seeing a steady increase in new cases,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “While we aren’t near the peak of the pandemic from earlier this year, none of us wants to go back there, and we feel these restrictions will help limit further community spread.”
The city and state of Illinois have both been in phase four of their respective reopening plans since late June, though officials have long warned that they would not hesitate to bring back any restrictions from earlier phases of the pandemic should coronavirus cases continue to rise.
Under the phase four guidelines of Illinois' reopening plan specifying group sizes, gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed for any reason, increased from a 10-person maximum in the previous phase.
Health experts have cautioned since the pandemic began that indoor gatherings, particularly in places that have poor ventilation or insufficient room to allow for physical distancing, pose a greater risk for transmission than outdoor events.
Chicago's top public health official warned last week that roll backs in reopening were possible if the city reached an average daily case rate above 200. The city topped 200 daily cases on Friday and as of Monday, that average sat at 233. The positivity rate as of Monday morning sat at 5.1%, according to the city's health department.
If the city reaches an average of 400 new cases per day, Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, that would mark the city's return to phase three.
"If we get to a point where we are up to 400 cases per day, that's the equivalent of where the states are that we are requiring quarantine for our visitors," Arwady said. "It's the equivalent of needing to go back to a phase three, really pulling back on major activities."
Lightfoot said last week the city was "dangerously close" to reversing course.
"Right now we are on the precipice. We are dangerously close to going back to a dangerous state of conditions," Lightfoot said during a news conference Wednesday.
Both Lightfoot and Arwady have repeatedly shared their concerns that those between the ages of 18 and 29 years old are marking the biggest rise in infections.
They issued a warning to young people in particular to continue following public health guidance: avoid large gatherings and wear a face mask at all times when outside the home.
"We've got to continue to do the right things. If you are a business, we're not afraid to shut you down and we've proven that. So please step up and do the right thing. Follow the guidance that you know is in place to keep your workers, to keep your customers and to keep you safe," Lightfoot said, noting that she did not want Chicago to see a spike in cases like some states in the South and West regions of the U.S. have been in recent weeks.
"I certainly don't want to be like other places of the country where we're shutting down commerce and businesses again," Lightfoot said.
Most industries were shut down nearly entirely beginning in mid-March as cases began to climb in Illinois. Restrictions have been gradually lifted in a phased reopening framework, with Chicago entering phase four on June 26, allowing indoor service in a limited capacity at bars and restaurants, among other changes.
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