Illinois' Tier 3 COVID Resurgence Mitigations Take Effect Friday

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On Tuesday, November 17, 2020, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker unveiled several new coronavirus mitigation strategies to address a recent surge in cases. As a result, beginning on Friday, November 20, 2020, at 12:01 a.m., the entire State of Illinois will enter what is being called "Tier 3," which builds on the Resurgence Mitigation Plan first released in July. This Tier encourages people to stay home to the greatest extent possible and limit gatherings. The Tier does permit some industries to remain open, but at greatly reduced capacities.

School districts and local officials, however, should still follow the guidance released by IDPH and ISBE in August, and locally make decisions related to in-person and remote learning based on the needs of their communities. Likewise, child care facilities may continue to operate subject to DCFS guidelines.

Notably, Phase 4 operational guidance, detailed here, still remains in effect. Where Phase 4 guidance and Tier 3 mitigations conflict, the more restrictive Tier 3 Mitigations control.

A Summary of the new mitigation requirements under Tier 3 are as follows:


All office-employees who can work remotely should work remotely.

Retail stores, including convenience stores, service counters, and “big box” stores that offer groceries and pharmacy, must operate at 25% capacity or less. However, grocery stores and pharmacies may operate at up to 50% capacity. Delivery or curbside pickup options are encouraged.

Personal care services must operate at the lesser of either i) 25 clients or ii) 25% capacity. Here, face coverings must always be worn by clients and service providers. Services are suspended where face coverings cannot be worn (i.e., facials and beard trims). Physical, occupational, and massage therapy will be allowed where deemed medically necessary, with appointments separated by a minimum of 15 minutes to ensure proper sanitization and air circulation. Virtual consultations are recommended.

Health and fitness centers cannot operate above 25% capacity and must require reservations. Face masks must also be worn at all times. Indoor group classes are not allowed, and locker rooms should be closed.

Hotel room occupancy is limited to registered guests, with the maximum allowance being the number of individuals permissible per existing fire code for each applicable guest room. Grab and go food is allowed. However, hotel fitness centers should be closed, or operated only on a reservation model, with capacity limited to a maximum of 25% occupancy for the room. Event and meeting spaces should be closed.

Regarding manufacturing, all employees must wear face coverings at all times expect for safety reasons. Only manufacturing staff and key personnel are allowed in facilities. Non-production employees must work remotely. Non-essential staff/visitors are not permitted. Exemptions will only be made for critical equipment repairs, supply deliveries, and safety reasons. Such individuals must also have an Employee Health and Safety (EHS)-approved risk-assessment and temperature check completed prior to entrance. Further, additional COVID training is required for all employees, even if previous training occurred. Operators should coordinate with the Illinois Department of Public Health (“IDPH”) to implement testing and contact tracing protocols. Operators must also suspend coronavirus-related incentive pay; promote staying home when sick or showing symptoms; implement temporary leave policies accommodating sick workers; and develop/implement safety protocols for employee travel vans to promote spacing, require face coverings, temperature checks, air circulation, and vehicle sanitization. Additional workstation realignment should be implemented when feasible. Likewise, shifts should be staggered and spaced with designated shift entrances/exits, when possible, to minimize employee interactions across shifts. Station sanitation is required at the beginning and end of shifts.

All bars and restaurants, including private clubs and country clubs, must close at 11 p.m. and may reopen no earlier than 6 a.m. the following day. Indoor service is not allowed. All bar patrons should be seated outside at tables, spaced 6 feet apart. Tables shall seat only one party of a maximum of 6 people. Reservations are required. Ordering, seating, or congregating at the bar is not permitted – bar stools should be removed. Standing or congregating outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting is not allowed. Nor is dancing or standing indoors permitted. Indoor gaming terminals must also suspend operations.

Regarding meetings, social events, and gathering (including weddings, potlucks, etc.), areas such as meeting rooms, banquet centers, private party rooms, private clubs, and country clubs may not host gatherings. Nor are party busses allowed. Funerals are limited to 10 family members of the decedent. And home gatherings should be limited to such household members.

Organized group recreational activities, such as sports, indoor sports, and activity facilities (including park districts and travel leagues), must pause all indoor group sporting and recreational activities. This includes youth and adult recreational sports. Likewise, locker rooms should be closed. However, individual training may continue with facility reservation. Outdoor sports and recreation is allowed, as long as it is limited to 10 persons or less with social distancing. Face coverings are required for all activities, at all times.

Areas of indoor recreation, theaters, and cultural institutions (which include theaters, casinos, bowling alleys, arcades, museums, and zoos) will be closed. Live streaming of performances with socially distanced performers and minimal operations staff is encouraged. Outdoor activities are allowed with a maximum of 25% capacity, and outdoor group activities being limited to 10 persons, wearing face coverings at all times, or less. Reservations are required for outdoor activities.

Ultimately, there is no set time frame for how long these restrictions will last. IDPH will continue to monitor infections rates and evaluate whether adjustments to these mitigations are appropriate.

Importantly, however, these requirements can be lifted on a regional basis. Accordingly, a region must experience positivity test rates less than 12% for three consecutive days; intensive care unit and hospital bed availability greater than 20 percent; and coronavirus hospitalizations in 7 out of the last 10 days must have declined, in order for a region to move back to Tier 2 mitigations. You can review the latest regional metrics here. For more information, please also see the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity’s FAQ page regarding Tier 3.

For advice complying with this Executive Order, contact the attorneys at Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella, P.C.

330 North Wabash Avenue, Suite 2100
Chicago, Illinois 60611-3607
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