Pritzker cuts indoor bar and restaurant service as coronavirus rates skyrocket in eastern metropolitan area

Updated September 1 with new restrictions

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker is imposing an additional restriction on bars and restaurants in Metro East in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus in the region.

From Wednesday, any room service is prohibited. The rest of the restrictions the governor imposed on the region two weeks ago are still in place.

Bars and restaurants must close at 11 p.m., place tables six feet apart and require reservations for groups.

Pritzker and state public health officials had planned to introduce the new ban on indoor meals last week, but hesitated after coming under pressure from lawmakers and local mayors.

The governor admitted he made a mistake in not instituting more stringent restrictions earlier in the eastern metropolitan area, which has the highest seven-day average coronavirus positivity rate of any region in the state at 9.6%.

The state automatically intervenes in an area that has an average positivity rate above 8% for three consecutive days.

These new restrictions will last for at least two weeks, before the state reassesses their continued existence.

Original story from August 17:

EAST STREET. LOUIS – Local officials joined Illinois Governor JB Pritzker on Monday in urging Metro East residents to follow public health guidelines a day after the state announced new health restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus in the region.

“People, you have to wake up. You have to rise up. You have to do better, ”said Elizabeth Patton-Whiteside, East Side Health District Administrator. “We have laid out the plan for you to follow. Preventing or stopping the virus starts with you or ends with the undertaker. It’s up to you.”

Changes go into effect Tuesday and force bars, restaurants and casinos to close by 11 p.m., limit indoor seating to six people per table, place tables six feet apart, and require group reservations at bars and restaurants.

Over the weekend, Metro East hit a third consecutive day with a seven-day coronavirus positivity rate above 8%, triggering the new restrictions and a visit to Metro East by Pritzker.

“No matter which side of this border you live on, your community is facing worrying trends in positivity rates,” Pritzker said at a press conference in East St. Louis, “rates we don’t see in other parts of Illinois. “

Missouri has reported 11% positivity rates in recent weeks.

Many of the new restrictions for the Metro East mirror what has already been put in place in St. Louis, Pritzker said.

“We try to put in place effective mitigation measures and not undermine them by forgetting that just across the river is a city, a state that basically has a different set of mitigation strategies.” , did he declare.

The state did not want to impose severe restrictions on businesses, only for Metro East residents to head to Missouri where they could be more cowardly, Pritkzer said. He added that the state needed residents of Metro East to take the threat of the virus seriously.

“Our goals of saving lives, reducing the spread of the virus, moving the economy forward far outweigh any personal inconvenience,” Pritzker said. “It’s about preserving the people and the places we love. “

Other elected leaders and health officials have been more direct in their appeals to the community.

Patton-Whiteside said she and other officials have explained countless times how people can protect themselves by washing their hands, socially distancing themselves and wearing a mask.

“It’s really up to the members of the community to do that,” said State Senator Chris Belt, D-Cahokia. “If we don’t have membership, we won’t get there. “

Belt called on Metro East residents to put aside their feelings about whether wearing a mask is the right thing to do.

“People are dying as we speak,” he said. “People are infected and sick at an alarming rate. “

New trade restrictions in the eastern metropolitan area include:

  • Remove bar stools to avoid ordering, sitting and congregating in bars.
  • Limit meetings or social gatherings to the lesser of 25 people or 25% of the overall room capacity.
  • Require all bar and restaurant patrons to be seated at indoor and outdoor tables.
  • Prohibit standing or gathering inside or outside bars and restaurants while waiting for a table or when leaving.
  • Unless you dance or stand inside.
  • Closure of all reception rooms.
  • Closure of all party buses.

The guidelines apply to the counties of St. Clair, Madison, Bond, Clinton, Monroe, Randolph and Washington.

Eric Schmid covers Metro East for St. Louis Public Radio as part of the Journalism Fellowship Program: Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth project. Follow Eric on Twitter: @EricDSchmid

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