Due to a recent surge in positive COVID-19 tests, restrictions at certain Illinois casinos have re-emerged. The new precautions will last for the next two weeks, with the potential of further mitigation measures.
Several businesses in the Metro East area, or Region 4, now face the additional restrictions in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. That area includes casinos in Alton and East St. Louis.
New Illinois casino restrictions for Region 4
Illinoisans should note that, at this time, these restrictions are only for the Metro East area. That region includes the following Illinois counties:
- St. Clair
The new restrictions take effect today (Aug. 18). As of right now, they will expire in two weeks, but the situation remains fluid.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has instituted the restrictions in conjunction with IL Gov. JB Pritzker because the “rate of positivity” (number of positive tests compared to the general population) has surpassed 8% for three consecutive days.
The region will relax those restrictions when the positivity rate averages less than or equal to 6.5% for 14 straight days.
Until then, the Argosy Casino in Alton and the Casino Queen in East St. Louis will face the following restrictions:
- Daily closure at 11 p.m.
- Gathering capacity is 25% of the fire code.
- Reservations are required for indoor dining.
- Indoor dining tables are restricted to six people or fewer.
- Tables must be at least 6 feet apart.
- Removal of barstools to discourage congregating.
- No loitering, either indoors or outdoors.
That’s along with current requirements, including mandatory face masks and temperature checks.
Prior to the state enacting these new restrictions, the Argosy and Casino Queen were free to operate at 50% capacity and maintain their regular hours.
Illinois casinos aren’t the only businesses these restrictions will affect, however. For example, party buses are not allowed to operate for the time being.
If trends elsewhere in the state don’t improve quickly. Region 4 may not be alone.
Other parts of Illinois flirt with same restrictions
Region 5, which is the farthest southeast part of the state, hit a 7.3% COVID-19 positivity rate on Aug. 14. Although Region 3’s latest reported positivity rate was 6.2%, it has been on the rise for three consecutive days.
Region 3 is just north of Region 4, so it’s telling that the two regions that border Region 4 are most likely at risk for similar restrictions.
Pritzker and the IDPH have made it clear what Illinoisans statewide can do to improve the numbers. IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike said:
“As we warned when we began reopening Illinois, we are seeing an increase in cases, emergency department visits and other indicators that the virus is circulating more widely in the community. Region 4 is the first of the 11 regions to reach resurgence criteria, but we hope it will be the last. By implementing additional mitigations, such as decreased indoor capacities and limiting hours, we hope to reduce the spread of the virus in the Metro East, and also help prevent an increase in cases, hospitalizations and death in other regions of the state.”
Hopefully, the period of enhanced restrictions will be short-lived. Until then, casino patrons in Alton and East St. Louis will see the reminders that the pandemic is still ongoing.