coronavirus illinois

Illinois' Tier 3 Mitigations Mean Capacity Limits for Big Box Stores

The new Tier 3 restrictions are set to take effect statewide Friday

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Under Illinois' Tier 3 mitigations, big box stores will have heightened capacity restrictions, even if they sell food or have pharmacies inside.

According to the new guidelines, all retailers will be limited to 25% capacity, except for grocery stores and pharmacies, which can have up to 50% capacity.

Still, "big box" stores that offer groceries and pharmacy items, as well as convenience stores, will still be limited to 25%, the mitigations state.

New guidelines will also be in place for gyms, hotels, restaurants, bars and more, beginning Friday.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the added restrictions Tuesday as he said coronavirus growth is now exponential in every region of the state, statewide positivity rate is at record highs and hospitalizations have surpassed the spring peak.

"If these numbers don't start to curb, if they don't start to bend this curve, then it is clear that we're going to have to take more difficult measures and go to a stay-at-home order," Pritzker said in announcing the new statewide restrictions.

It's a move Pritzker said he hopes will "avoid another stay-at-home order."

"I’m hopeful that by limiting our in-person interactions now, we will succeed at avoiding a stay at home order like what we had in the spring," he said.

All of Illinois had been under some sort of heightened mitigations prior to Tuesday's announcement, but much of the state, with the exception of a few regions, was under Tier 1 mitigations.

The state's health department said officials will track metrics over the next 14 days to determine "if mitigations can be relaxed, if additional mitigations are required, or if current mitigations should remain in place."

The latest warning came after state health officials issued guidance recommending that all residents "stay home as much as possible, leaving only for necessary and essential activities, such as work that must be performed outside the home, COVID-19 testing, visiting the pharmacy, and buying groceries."

Stay-at-home advisories also took effect Monday morning in Chicago and suburban Cook County as coronavirus metrics continue to rise.

Big box stores and grocery chains have been preparing as a second wave of the virus hit the Midwest and much of the country.

Walmart on Monday resumed counting shoppers as the company continues to limit stores to 20% capacity.

To help ensure supplies, stores such as Mariano's and Kroger have placed limits on items including toilet paper. Target has also warned of item restrictions, depending on supplies and a region's outbreak.

"We’ll adjust limits as needed, and respectfully ask all guests to consider their immediate needs and purchase accordingly, so more families can find the products they need," the company said in a statement.

Also Monday, wholesale retailer Costco began requiring all shoppers to wear facial coverings, even those who have medical conditions that prevent them from wearing face masks.

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