Illinois Counties Enforce Stricter Regulations

At casinos, bars and restaurants in Will and Kankakee counties in Illinois, new regulations were implemented Wednesday, August 26 after the region had a Covid-19 test positivity rate of 8 percent for three consecutive days. The stricter rules cover Harrah’s Joliet Casino & Hotel and Hollywood Casino Joliet.

The new rules will remain in place for 14 days and if no improvement is shown, the state may enforce even stricter rules. However, if the positivity rate declines to 6.5 percent by the end of that 2-week period, the region can return to Governor J.B. Pritzker’s phase four rules, which took effect in July. The new rules will remain in effect if the positivity rate stays between 6.5 percent and 8 percent at the end of the period.

Under the new rules, casinos are limited to 25 percent capacity and must close at 11 p.m.. Bars or restaurants may not offer indoor service and outside bar and food service must close at 11 p.m. Other rules require outdoor bar patrons must maintain social distancing and each party must have a reservation.

In a statement, state Rep. Margo McDermed said Lawmakers had been told the regional increase in the positivity rate was driven people age 20 to 29 who do not follow social distancing at bars, gather in large groups and “travel to COVID hot spots.” She said, “Whether you disagree or agree with the governor’s rules, he is the one with the power right now while the courts consider the constitutionality of his executive orders. Like it or not, failure to follow his rules have consequences that extend beyond any one individual.”

McDermed added, “This retreat from reopening our local economy demonstrates that the fate of area businesses is directly related to our personal behaviors, regardless of age. I would encourage everyone to consider how their choices impact our entire community, especially business owners, who are just now beginning to recover and are struggling to stay afloat during this health crisis.”

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