coronavirus illinois

Cook County Department of Public Health Releases New Coronavirus Mitigation Guidelines

The guidelines are voluntary, but include asking bars without food licenses to restrict service to outdoor seating areas

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With coronavirus cases on the rise in Cook County, Board President Toni Preckwinkle and the Cook County Department of Public Health have issued new voluntary guidance for bars, fitness clubs, personal care businesses and other gathering places to help limit the spread of the virus.

According to a press release issued by the CCDPH and Preckwinkle’s office, suburban Cook County’s positivity rate of coronavirus cases is at 5.8%, and while that number is below the 8% threshold that the state of Illinois has set as a potential benchmark to re-introduce coronavirus restrictions, officials are still seeking to have businesses adhere to new guidelines to cut down on virus transmission.

“We get it. It’s summer,” Preckwinkle said. “Young people are tired of the restrictions, but the virus is still with us. We need to get the word out and encourage young people to be patient. Physical distancing and wearing a mask is the minimum we need people to do to protect themselves and their friends and family.”

Dr. Rachel Rubin of the CCDPH says that the department is hoping businesses will follow the guidelines so that they “don’t become requirements.”

The new recommendations include:

  • Bars, taverns, breweries and other establishments that serve alcohol for on-site consumption without a retail food license are being asked to serve customers outdoors only.
  • Restaurants that serve alcohol should continue to abide by current regulations.
  • Maximum party size and table occupancy at restaurants, bars, taverns and breweries should be limited to six people, regardless of whether the table is indoors or outdoors.
  • Indoor fitness classes should be reduced to a maximum of 10 people.
  • Personal service businesses should discontinue services that require the removal of face coverings, including shaves and facials.
  • Property managers should limit guest entry to six people per unit to avoid indoor gatherings and parties.

According to the press release, suburban Cook County has seen two straight days of increased hospital admissions due to coronavirus, but remains well above the 20 percent threshold of bed availability that would trigger increased restrictions.

Despite that, officials hope that residents will take the new guidance seriously.

“If we don’t remain vigilant, we will face far more restrictive mitigation efforts and we will see more disease and more death,” Dr. Rubin said. “We are encouraging everyone to follow the ongoing guidelines and businesses to immediately adopt our recommendations.”

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