Northern Illinois Counties Navigate Indoor Dining Rules As Cases Climb

Oct 15, 2020

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The Winnebago County Health Department reported its highest new case count for coronavirus on record on Thursday. 

Public Health Administrator Sandra Martell said this comes with a seven-day positivity rate of 11.4% .

“We have 293 new cases being reported. The ages range from four months to 100 years. So if you think there’s any particular age group or one group being spared, I want you to think about this," she said. 

The new numbers include one Winnebago County resident who died as result of the virus. Martell and Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara strongly stressed the need for residents to take proper precautions, including face coverings and social distancing. Martell also noted that restaurants and bars are being allowed to have 25 people inside. But that could change if the state takes more stringent regional measures. 

Meanwhile, indoor dining will remain halted in DeKalb County during the increased mitigation measures. The DeKalb County Health Department issued a release after Thursday's conference in Winnebago County:

Since additional COVID-19 mitigation rules went into effect on Saturday, October 3rd, the region’s positivity rate has gone up instead of down. Positivity rate is a key measurement that the state uses to determine whether a region can remain in Phase 4 of Restore Illinois, the state’s plan for reopening the economy during the coronavirus pandemic. According to the plan, the region’s positivity rate must fall to 6.5% or less for three straight days before it can return to Phase 4. If the region’s rate stays at 8% or higher for 14 days, it could face stricter mitigation orders.

From October 3, when the resurgence mitigation took effect through October 13, DeKalb County Health Department received 76 complaints on 37 bars and restaurants. When a complaint is received, a five-step enforcement procedure is initiated. The first two steps focus on education and obtaining voluntary compliance. The third and fourth step both contain a written warning and a site visit. If compliance is not achieved in the first four steps, the food permit may be pulled and the case will be referred to the States Attorney’s Office for injunction of order to close.

While we know that restaurant and bar owners and their employees are adversely impacted by the current mitigation efforts, we must enforce these state mandates for the health and safety of our community. We would like to commend the restaurant/bar owners and their employees who are complying with the state’s mitigation efforts and we encourage everyone in the community to do their part to help slow the spread of COVID-19.