CHICAGO — New COVID-19 restrictions begin across the state as health officials try to stop the spike in virus cases and deaths.
Starting Friday, all of Illinois will move to stricter “Tier 3” COVID-19 restrictions, including the closure of theaters, museums and casinos; capacity limits on stores; a ban on indoor service at bars and restaurants; a “pause” of indoor sports; and limits on household gatherings to members of the household only.
Retailers, including big box stores, are operating at just 25 percent capacity as the holiday season approaches. Grocery stores and pharmacies will operate at 50 percent capacity.
Bars and restaurants must close by 11 p.m. and cannot offer indoor service — carry out and outdoor seating only. The same applies to private clubs and country clubs.
Gyms are capped at 25 percent capacity and reservations are required to workout. No indoor group fitness classes.
Entertainment venues are closed, including museums, movie theaters, casinos and bowling alleys. Gatherings like weddings and baptisms are limited to 10 people.
After 14 days, the Illinois Department of Public Health will look at the metrics and decide whether the state stays at Tier 3, or puts more restrictions in place.
The order comes as the coronavirus pandemic is putting a crunch on hospital staffing across Illinois and the U.S., forcing many hospital systems to push back elective surgeries.
Health officials reported 168 additional COVID-19 related deaths in Illinois Thursday, the biggest single-day increase since mid-May and the third largest rise since the start of the pandemic.
In addition to the virus-related deaths, the IDPH reported 14,612 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases Thursday. After rising steadily since early October, the 7-day average of new cases of the disease has remained near 12,000 since November 13.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that Americans not travel for Thanksgiving.
Speaking Wednesday, Governor JB Pritzker said COVID-19 is now the third leading cause of death in Illinois behind heart disease and cancer. The elderly make up the majority of lives lost, with more than 70% over the age of 70.