Change could be coming as early as Wednesday, January 15.
Since Friday, November 20 every region in Illinois has been under at least Tier 3 mitigations but in a Covid-19 update on Wednesday Governor JB Pritzker announced that some of those regional restrictions are likely to be lifted this month thanks to “optimistic early signs of progress.”
Pritzker stated that January 15th will be the day that any region to have met the Illinois Department of Public Health metrics will be able to move out of Tier 3 of their mitigation plan. As well as restrictions to gathering sizes and suspensions on some recreational spaces, the most notable of the Tier 3 mitigation measures that were introduced in November were closures to large institutions like theaters, museums, casinos, and amusement centers.
According to the Illinois Covid-19 Response website in order for a region to move back to Tier 2 mitigations, it “must experience less than 12 percent test positivity rate for three consecutive days AND greater than 20 percent available intensive care unit (ICU) and hospital bed availability AND declining COVID hospitalizations in 7 out of the last 10 days.”
With statistics from Christmas and New Year’s Eve to be clearer on January 15, after a full “incubation period” of 14 days will have passed, any of Illinois’ 11 regions to have avoided post-holiday bumps and shown positive improvements in controlling their COVID-19 outbreaks will move back into Tier 2 or Tier 1 of the mitigation plan.
Pritzker spoke of positive improvements across Illinois in his Wednesday coronavirus update saying that he was “cautiously optimistic” with “early signs that some regions have made real progress”. He announced that “Illinois did not experience the post-Thanksgiving uptick at a rate that plagued most of the rest of the country, and we’re watching closely in this incubation period post-Christmas and -New Year’s.”
Regional metrics that will dictate whether regions are downgraded to Tier 2, Tier 1, or stay in Tier 3 can be seen on the Region Metrics page of the Illinois Department of Public Health website. The full video of Governor Pritzker and Dr. Ngozi Ezike’s coronavirus update can be viewed here.
Meanwhile, mask-wearing and social distancing are set to stick around for at least another 150 days. Regulations expired this week but were renewed until early June. Anyone over the age of two without medical restrictions must wear a mask in public keep six feet of distance between themselves others regardless of whether they are indoors or outdoors. The extension will also provide hospitality and retail workers a document to assist with de-escalating confrontations over mask usage.