Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued more statewide restrictions on Tuesday as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Illinois.
During his daily COVID-19 briefing, the governor announced that museums, theaters and casinos will be closed and grocery and large retail stores will see capacity limits beginning on Friday.
“Models project that without additional mitigations, daily COVID-19 deaths may at least match the previous spring wave and could even rise up to four to five times that level,” said Pritzker.
Grocery stores will now be limited to a capacity of 50%, and large retail stores, such as Target, will be limited to 25% capacity.
Under the governor’s plan, gyms will be allowed to remain open on an appointment basis, but group fitness classes will be prohibited. Salons and barbershops will also be permitted to remain open.
All 11 regions in the state are currently under some form of enhanced mitigations, including the closure of indoor service at bars and restaurants and limitations on gathering sizes.
The Illinois Retail Merchants Association said Pritzker's statewide Tier III restrictions make sense.
“The Tier 3 mitigations announced today by Gov. J.B. Pritzker strikes the right balance between allowing access to retail services and the need to adjust safety measures in response to the latest science about how to address this virus. While additional capacity restrictions will impose significant hardship on retailers already devastated by the pandemic – especially during what is usually the busiest shopping time of the year – we are glad customers will continue to have numerous safe shopping options,” IRMA President and CEO Rob Karr said in a statement. “It is our hope the same science that provides for safe shopping can soon be applied to restaurants and bars so they can again allow inside dining, albeit at a reduced capacity.”
The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association said it would continue to work to produce the things residents need.
“We remain committed to working with state officials and health experts to ensure the protection of all workers, customers and our communities,” said Mark Denzler, president & CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “Indeed, manufacturers have proven they are not only vital to our response to this pandemic but will also be critical to our recovery as they look to hire more workers and pour billions of dollars into our economy.”
The Illinois Health and Hospital Association praised the governor's decision.
“Hospitals in every area of the state now have higher caseloads of COVID-19 patients than they faced during the spring surge,” the association said. “While hospitals and health systems are continuing to ramp up their capacity and manage their caseloads, the surge in infections and hospitalizations will soon present significant challenges to the healthcare delivery system.”
The Illinois Nurses Association said it supported the new measures.
“Nurses are on the front lines of the state’s health care system and a spike in COVID-19 cases puts them at heightened risk and jeopardizes the health care system’s ability to care for all Illinois patients,” the association said in a statement. “Stringent mitigation measures based on sound science and public health practices are called for to ensure we reduce the infections from COVID-19.”
The new restrictions came after the announcement of another 12,601 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. The state has registered nearly 143-thousand cases over a 12-day span, about as many as it did during the first 4 months of the pandemic combined.
More than 300 additional hospital beds were being used by coronavirus patients Monday night than the previous night, reaching a record high of 5,887. Currently, 1,158 patients are in the intensive care.
Pritzker also issued a warning about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.
“The terrible truth is that getting together with people in this way is exactly how the virus spreads,” he said.
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