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COVID-19 restrictions loosened in the Metro East Friday

Region 4 moves into Tier 2 mitigations on Friday, which includes changes for gyms, casinos, cultural institutions and more

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois Department of Public Health announced Region 4, which includes the Metro East, is moving into Tier 2 coronavirus mitigations.

Region 4 includes Bond, Clinton, Madison, Monroe, Randolph, St. Clair and Washington counties. The change is effective Friday, Jan. 22.

Tier 2 includes loosens restrictions for at gyms, cultural institutions and more. 

Moving into Tier 2 means casinos can reopen at 25% capacity from 8 a.m. - 11 p.m. Food and drink service is still suspended inside.

Meetings, social events and gatherings — including weddings, funerals and events at hotel centers — can resume with a limit of 10 guests in both indoor and outdoor settings. Indoor fitness classes can resume, again with a limit of 10 people.

Household gatherings can include up to 10 people. In Tier 3, the state urged residents to keep guests out of their house.

Youth sports must still follow the measures released in the state's "All Sports Guidelines."

Moving from Tier 3 to Tier 2 does not loosen restrictions for bars and restaurants. Indoor dining is still banned.

See a side-by-side comparison of Tier 2 and Tier 3 plans on the state health department's website.

Credit: KSDK

All 11 regions in Illinois have now moved out of Tier 3, the strictest tier of Illinois’ mitigation plan. The Metro East was the last region under the tightest restrictions. If metrics continue to improve, regions 10 and 11 are on track to move into Tier 1 on Jan. 23, IDPH said in a news release Friday morning.

“With all regions of Illinois now out of Tier 3, we can now see that the entire state is headed down the right path,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “During the summer, we were on this same path. We know that we must continue to take precautions and be smart about how we relax some of the mitigation measures, which are in place to protect our health and safety.”

After a surge in COVID-19 cases across Illinois in the fall, all 11 regions moved into Tier 3 on Nov. 20. By sticking to the tighter restrictions throughout the holiday season, the state said residents were able to bring down rates of community spread.

Earlier this week, the Metro East had a seven-day positivity rate of 8.1%, which is the lowest it's been since October.

“We are pleased to hear our region as a whole is trending in the right direction,” said St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern. “We will continue to advocate to our residents to mask up, wash their hands, and stay safe so we can continue to increase capacity at our hospitals and reduce our positivity rates. We appreciate the work and partnership of IDPH and Governor Pritzker.”

To move into Tier 1, the region must have three consecutive days of the seven-day positivity rate below 8%, three consecutive days of at least 20% of ICU beds in the region available and no sustained increase in COVID-19 patients in hospitals.

Click here for more information about Illinois' mitigation plan.

On Friday, IDPH also updated guidelines for youth and adult recreational sports under Phase 4.

Sports guidance under Phase 4 expands the level of play allowed for all sports.

In Tier 2, lower-risk sports like archery, baseball and tennis are allowed at level 3, which means they can have intra-conference play/meets and championship games/meets.

Medium-risk sports like flag football, volleyball and paintball are allowed at level 2, which means they can have intra-team scrimmages but no competitive play.

High-risk sports like basketball, football and wrestling are allowed at level 1, which means they can have no-contact practices and trainings.

Type of play levels include:

  • Level 1 – No-contact practices, and trainings only
  • Level 2 – Intra-team scrimmages allowed, with parental consent for minors; no competitive play
  • Level 3 – Intra-conference or Intra-EMS-region or intra-league play/meets only; state- or league-championship game/meet allowed for low-risk sports only
  • Level 4 – Tournaments, out-of-conference/league play, out-of-state play allowed; championship games allowed

Those participating in sports must continue to wear face coverings or masks throughout the activity.

The full list of sports and which risk level they fall under is available on the IDPH website here.