Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Friday that Illinois State Police will regulate all regions that have begun enhanced coronavirus mitigations over the last week in response to a sudden surge of metrics.
The Illinois governor said officers will be in Region 1, Region 5, Region 7 and Region 8, which have all been ordered heightened mitigations as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations increase.
Pritzker said the police will not be arresting people not adhering to guidelines, but are permitted to issue citations to anyone under an emergency regulation passed during the pandemic.
Before issuing citations, though, officers will likely provide initial warnings to people neglecting to follow the new mitigations, he explained.
"So after a couple of warnings, and perhaps a dispersal order, there is the potential for the issuance of citations," Pritzker said.
State police will also be checking if locations with liquor and gaming licenses are following protocol, and threatening to take away their ability to provide the given service, according to Pritzker.
"We're going to ask the businesses, as the regulation outlines, to do what they're supposed to do," Pritzker said. "And we'll hold them responsible for their actions."
Pritzker previously downplayed enforcement while begging for compliance, but he said times have changed.
“It is very serious right now, folks, and if we need to close down restaurants or bars or take away their liquor licenses, take away their gaming licenses, we will do that because we are now headed into a peak that is beyond, potentially, where we were in March and April,” Pritzker said Thursday during a visit to the St. Clair County Health Department in Belleville.
Illinois health officials reported 3,874 new cases of coronavirus Friday, along with 31 additional deaths as the state again set a record for highest number of tests conducted in a single day.
In all, 364,033 cases of the virus have been confirmed in the state during the pandemic, according to the latest figures from the Illinois Department of Public Health. The additional deaths reported Friday brought the total number of coronavirus-related fatalities to 9,418.
Pritzker has been sympathetic about the bitter pill forced on bars and restaurants. However, he has been carrying with him a sheaf of paper representing a dozen studies the administration maintains show that such entertainment venues are “spreading locations,” given how close people get in such places and that alcohol use might lower inhibitions about wearing face coverings.ADVERTISEMENT
He also notes that such enterprises are first in line for business-interruption grants offered by the state.
Resurgence mitigations, including outdoor-only bar and restaurant service that must end at 11 p.m. and limiting gatherings to 25 or fewer people, started Thursday for Region 5, in far southern Illinois, one of 11 COVID-19 monitoring regions in the state. They start Saturday for four populous suburban Chicago counties comprising Regions 7 and 8.
Restrictions in place since Oct. 3 have not stopped COVID-19′s spread in northwestern Illinois — Region 1. The rate of positive COVID-19 tests there is now 12%, up two percentage points in the past week alone. So Region 1 must observe even tighter restrictions beginning Sunday, such as no more than 10 people gathering at once and no more than six at an outdoor restaurant table.