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Ill. Gov. Bans Indoor Dining in Chicago Over Alleged Virus ‘Surge’

'Without action, this could look worse than anything we saw in the spring...'

(Headline USA) “Surging” COVID-19 cases in Chicago prompted Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday to ban indoor dining and bar services and limit the number of people gathering in one place.

However, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says she isn’t sure Pritzker’s new restrictions are targeting the right people and worries that they will adversely affect the city’s economy.

The rules taking effect Friday will force diners and bar patrons outdoors and shut down service at 11 p.m. in the nation’s third-largest city. Night-time temperatures for the next week are projected to be in the 30-degree range, likely killing any chance for outdoor diners. It will only get colder as fall turns into winter.

Also, no more than 25 people may gather at one time, or fewer if that number would exceed 25% of room capacity.

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“We can’t ignore what is happening around us, because without action, this could look worse than anything we saw in the spring,” Pritzker said, referring to the start of the pandemic, when health care resources were pushed to the limit because of the overwhelming number of COVID-19 cases.

Chicago, which comprises Region 11 of the state’s 11 COVID-19 monitoring regions, joins six other regions subject to what the Pritzker administration calls “resurgence mitigations.” A day earlier, Pritzker imposed the restrictions on Region 10, Cook County outside of Chicago and Lake County to the north.

Lightfoot told PBS NewsHour that the greatest challenge the city faces is getting people to follow necessary health protocols at home, where social settings vary and are more difficult to regulate.

“If the governor’s order goes into effect, it’s really effectively shutting down a significant portion of our economy at a time when those same businesses are really hanging on by a thread,” Lightfoot said. “So we’re going to continue our engagement of the governor of his team, but it’s not looking good.”

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After a summer of declining case numbers — Illinois fared better than many other states, particularly in the South and West — they allegedly began climbing again in August and jumped precipitously this month. The vast majority of individuals who test positive for the virus recover — 99 percent of those under age 70.

Earlier Tuesday, Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, predicted the action taken by the governor, pointing out that while COVID-19 is not as prevalent in Chicago as during the pandemic’s early days in March, the number of confirmed cases is doubling every nine days.

“COVID is widespread here in Chicago, and we need you to double down on the things that you know work,” Arwady said. “Please as much as you can, if there are interactions you’re having that are not essential, back off on those.”

Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.

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