New COVID restrictions in effect Wednesday in Metro East

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – On Tuesday, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker tweeted about a national surge, calling out neighboring states like Missouri. He also mentioned two more regions triggered additional mitigations. One of those was Region 4 in the Metro East.

The stricter guidelines went into effect Wednesday.

On Tuesday night, Geo’s Wings in Belleville put their chairs up and pushed the tables to the side, preparing for another ban on indoor dining. 

“I would say we’ve lost half of our business,” said Karen Smith, owner of Geo’s Wings. “I don’t know what small businesses are supposed to do.”

“It has been absolutely a nightmare,” one of the restaurant’s lead bartenders, Dawn Marnan, said. “They open us up, for a couple of, 2 or 3 weeks, then we start getting business back, everybody’s happy, we’re all making money and then—bam—they just shut us down again.”

The owner said now she is thinking about every item that costs money, something she wouldn’t have bat an eye at months ago.

“It’s scary, I just told my husband when he turned the heat up, ‘don’t turn that heat up, there’s nobody in here to pay for the heat,'” Smith said.

The restaurant is preparing for another empty dining room. With colder weather, they aren’t sure if their patrons will want to sit outside. But, they have a firepit and a covered patio, just in case. 

Otherwise, the owner said they are blessed to have a drive-thru option to keep the revenue coming in.

“We have an outside patio, but nobody in their right mind is going to want to go outside and eat when its 35 degrees outside,” Marnan said.

“Bring a blanket if they want to help support us,” Smith said.

But some of Geo’s Wings regulars are trying to help ease the burden during this trying time by getting take-out. At least one customer brings his family about five times a week.

“We try to come through the drive-thru at least twice a week to help them out,” said Terri Krietemeyer, a frequent customer.

“But people like her, they keep coming in, I appreciate my faithful customers,” Smith said.

Region 4 includes seven counties: St. Clair, Madison, Monroe, Clinton, Bond, Washington, and Randolph. Region 4 has already faced restrictions twice before.  

Mitigation measures taking in Regions 4 and 10 include:  

Bars  

  • No indoor service  
  • All outside bar service closes at 11:00 p.m.  
  • All bar patrons should be seated at tables outside  
  • No ordering, seating, or congregating at bar (bar stools should be removed)   
  • Tables should be 6 feet apart   
  • No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting  
  • No dancing or standing indoors  
  • Reservations required for each party  
  • No seating of multiple parties at one table  

Restaurants  

  • No indoor dining or bar service  
  • All outdoor dining closes at 11:00 p.m.  
  • Outside dining tables should be 6 feet apart  
  • No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting  
  • Reservations required for each party   
  • No seating of multiple parties at one table  

Meetings, Social Events, Gatherings  

  • Limit to lesser of 25 guests or 25 percent of overall room capacity  
  • No party buses  
  • Gaming and Casinos close at 11:00 p.m., are limited to 25 percent capacity, and follow mitigations for bars and restaurants, if applicable  

On Tuesday, Illinois reported 4,000 new COVID-19 cases as well as 46 additional deaths. That brings the total in the state to 382,985 cases, including 9,568 deaths as of Oct. 27.

 The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity is 6.4%.  Last Tuesday, the positivity rate was 5.5%.

As of Monday night, 2,758 people in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19.  Of those, 595 patients were in the ICU and 241 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

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