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COVID Rules Eased Slightly in Southern Illinois
By The Associated Press
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS - Governor Pritzker announced Friday that the spread of COVID-19 has slowed enough to ease restrictions slightly in southern Illinois, but indoor dining at restaurants is still not allowed.

Illinois, one of only 3 states nationwide that ban indoor dining, has had the latest ban in place for 75 days. The Illinois Restaurant Association says thousands of their members report revenue down about 80%, and the group says 5,000 Illinois restaurants could close permanently without relief.

The reduction from Tier 3 to Tier 2 rules still doesn't approve indoor dining at bars and restaurants, but it could resume sooner than original rules allowed. Under the new rules, restaurants will be allowed to resume indoor dining at 25% capacity or a maximum 25 customers if the region hits certain benchmarks, including a seven-day average positivity rate below 8% for three straight days.

As of Friday, Region 5 which covers southern Illinois had a single-day positivity rate of 7.8%.

Tier 2 rules also mean that activities such as group fitness classes and gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed, retail businesses will be able to increase capacity limits and museums and other cultural institutions can reopen. Casinos can also reopen, as Harrahs in Metropolis did on Saturday.

Pritzker also announced the state will move into Phase 1B of its vaccination plan on Jan. 25. In that phase, people 65 and older and essential workers can get the vaccine. The state will partner with pharmacies to be vaccination sites.

Pritzker said stricter Tier 3 rules have also been lifted in central Illinois including Peoria and Bloomington, and counties in northwest Illinois. In Chicago, tougher restrictions will remain in place.

Published 08:49 AM, Saturday Jan. 16, 2021
Updated 02:18 PM, Sunday Jan. 17, 2021

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