- Jan 24, 2021
Local businesses and residents received encouraging news on two fronts in the past week. First, as of last Saturday, suburban Cook County qualified for relaxed “Tier 1” mitigation rules, allowing limited indoor restaurant dining, small group gatherings, and indoor fitness classes among other things. Then, on Monday the state progressed to Phase 1b of its vaccine distribution plan, making essential workers as well as individuals over age 65 eligible to receive COVID vaccines once doses become available.
Region 10 Transitions to Tier 1
Citing improved metrics for COVID test positivity, available hospital ICU capacity, and the rate of COVID hospitalizations, the Illinois Department of Public Health moved suburban Cook County to Tier 1 mitigations starting January 23. The decision moves operations back toward the Phase 4 standards in place from last summer until November, when tighter rules were applied in response to a resurgence in COVID infections.
The Tier 1 standard permits bars and restaurants to serve patrons indoors, provided:
- Indoor service limited to lesser of 25 percent capacity or 25 persons per room.
- No indoor tables exceeding four people.
- Establishments with indoor service must serve food.
- Outdoor, delivery and takeout service continues under updated hours. (All patrons must be off the premises by 11:00 p.m. and businesses may reopen at 6:00 a.m. or later. Drive-thru, carry out, and delivery service is still permitted after 11:00 p.m.)
- For a complete list of Phase 4 restaurant rules, visit the Illinois Restaurant Association website.
In addition to restaurants, a variety of other businesses are now allowed to operate with reduced restrictions. Hotels, cultural institutions, casinos, and indoor fitness classes are restored to Phase 4 standards, and gatherings may be held indoors or outdoors with a maximum of 25 percent of room capacity or 25 people, whichever is less. For a complete breakdown of the state’s mitigation tiers, visit the IDPH coronavirus website.
State Expands Vaccination Eligibility, Prepares for Widespread Distribution
On January 25, Illinois officially opened Phase 1b of the COVID vaccine distribution process. In theory, this phase will open availability of the vaccine to a variety of frontline essential workers in public safety, education, manufacturing, agriculture, grocery store, daycare, corrections, and other settings (see a complete list here). All residents ages 65 and over are also eligible. In practice, however, the slow rollout of actual doses will require many of these eligible individuals to wait for some as-yet-uncertain amount of time before receiving their shots.
In preparation for delivering vaccine doses to this much larger population, local health departments are coordinating with hospitals, doctors’ offices, and commercial pharmacies to establish appointment procedures. The Cook County Department of Public Health encourages eligible suburban residents to sign up for informational updates via this online survey. In addition, local elected officials will host a virtual Town Hall meeting on vaccine distribution on February 2 at 7:00 p.m., and the Northbrook Chamber presents an Ask The Expert vaccine webinar on February 9 at noon in partnership with NorthShore University HealthSystem.