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It’s official: Limited indoor dining returns to DeKalb County after nearly four months of pandemic mitigations

DeKalb County’s region met the metrics to reopen indoor dining effective immediately Monday, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 pandemic mitigation plan.

Per the IDPH plan, Region 1, which includes DeKalb, Winnebago and west to Whiteside counties, DeKalb County will move from Tier 2 of the Restore Illinois plan to Tier 1.

That means bars and restaurants — which have been banned from serving patrons inside since Oct. 3 when COVID-19 case resurgence forced the state to implement closures — can begin serving patrons inside at a limited capacity.

As of 2 p.m. Monday, neither the county or state health department have issued confirmation for the tier movement, though the region has met all the metrics to qualify for limited indoor dining according to the Restore Illinois plan announced by Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker Friday.

What are the new rules?

Indoor service is limited to 25% capacity or less, or 25 people per room. According to Tier 1 protocol establishments must service food to qualify for indoor service, reservations are required and limited to two hours, no tables can exceed four people inside, and bars and restaurants must close at 11 p.m. and reopen no earlier than 6 a.m. the following day.

Lisa Gonzalez, public health administrator with the DeKalb County Health Department, said the health department will likely continue to keep track of those local businesses not heeding the regulations per Tier 1.

“We would likely keep our enforcement page active as we will still be required to respond to complaints related to the new mitigation,” Gonzalez said in an email to the Daily Chronicle Sunday.

The health department will still track capacity, masking and social distancing in establishments, Gonzalez said.

During the nearly four months since business have been under the indoor dining prohibition imposed by the state since Oct. 3, the county health department has kept track of what establishments are operating in defiance of the mitigations, publishing a public list weekly. Health officials have said the list is not punitive, but rather published due to the large amount of public interest in the matter.

DeKalb County’s health region on Monday met all three metrics for moving forward to Tier 1, including:

1. A test positivity rate below 8% for three consecutive days, as measured by the seven-day rolling average.

On Monday, Jan. 18, Region 1 reported a 7.1% positivity rate, below 8% for the third day, according to state data which is reported on a three-day lag. DeKalb County specifically remains above 8% positivity rate, at 9.1%, up from 8.8% as of Monday.

2. Greater than or equal to 20% available staffed ICU and medical/surgical hospital beds for three consecutive days, on a three-day rolling average

As of Monday, Jan. 18, Region 1 reports 29% of hospital beds are available in the region, and 26% of ICU beds are available.

3. No sustained increase in the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 for seven out of 10 days, on a 7-day average

As of Monday, Jan. 18, Region 1 reports 8 out of 10 days with decreased hospitalizations.

As DeKalb County moves forward, here’s how capacity for indoor dining can be expanded when a region makes it out of Tier 1 and back into Phase 4.

Those metrics are:

1. A test positivity rate less than or equal to 6.5% for three consecutive days, as measured by the seven-day rolling average

2. Greater than or equal to 20% available staffed ICU and medical/surgical hospital beds for three consecutive days, on a three-day rolling average

3. No sustained increase in the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 for seven out of 10 days, on a seven-day average

Regions moving to Tier 1 also will have capacity on all general gatherings opened to 25 people.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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