COOK COUNTY, IL —New health guidance has been issued for bars, fitness clubs, personal care businesses and other gathering places, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Cook County Department of Public health announced Monday.
The guidance is in response to a new surge of coronavirus cases in suburban Cook County, particularly among young adults.
The new guidance measures include:
- Bars, taverns, breweries and other establishments that serve alcohol for on-site consumption without a retail food license are being asked to serve customers outdoors only.
- Restaurants that serve alcohol need to continue to abide by ongoing health guidance and existing regulations.
- Maximum party size and table occupancy at restaurants, bars, taverns, and breweries should be reduced to six people (indoor or outdoor).
- Indoor fitness class size should be reduced to a maximum of 10 people.
- Personal service businesses should discontinue services (shaves, facials) that require the removal of face coverings.
- Residential property managers should limit guest entry to six people per unit to avoid indoor gatherings and parties.
In addition, businesses and workplaces should:
- Institute remote work for high-risk individuals and continue to support telework for as many workers as possible.
- Retail establishments should maintain no more than 50 percent capacity, which is the current recommendation.
According to a release, the positivity rate is approaching one of the two threshold measures – a sustained increase in the 7-day rolling average in the positivity rate – in the state’s Restore Illinois Mitigation Plan. The positivity rate is a measure of the percentage of people that test positive for COVID-19, averaged over 10 days. On July 31, the positivity rate was 5.8 percent in suburban Cook County, up from 5.2 percent July 22.
Rates of coronavirus cases for people in their 20s are now about 2.5 times higher than they were at the end of March, and this age group now has the highest rates of COVID-19.
“We get it. It’s summer. Young people are tired of the restrictions,” Preckwinkle said in a release. “But the virus is still with us. We need to get the word out and encourage young people to be patient. Physical distancing and wearing a mask is the minimum we need people to do to protect themselves and their friends and family.”
Suburban Cook County has not seen a reduction in hospital capacity that would immediately threaten surge capabilities – the second threshold measure – but there have been two consecutive days of increased hospital admissions, a release states. As of July 31, 31 percent of ICU beds and 36 percent of surge beds remain available, above the 20 percent threshold.
“If we don’t remain vigilant, we will face far more restrictive mitigation efforts, and we will see more disease and more death. We are encouraging everyone to follow the ongoing guidelines and businesses to immediately adopt our recommendations, so that they don’t become requirements,” said Dr. Rachel Rubin, Cook County Department of Public Health Co-Lead and Senior Medical Officer.