BELLEVILLE, Ill. – Shoppers at Farmer’s Market in Belleville were wearing masks Friday. Manager Tim Adams said customers have been taking advantage of curbside pickup and adhering to mask and social distancing guidelines.
“I think they feel safe in our store,” he said.
St. Clair County has been dropped from a list of Illinois counties considered to be at a warning level for COVID-19 concerns. One factor contributing to the status change is a declining positivity rate.
St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern credits business owners for adopting mask-wearing, social distancing, and handwashing. He believes most business owners have been putting safety first to keep customers.
“We think these numbers warrant allowing us to reopen,” said Kern. He’s referring to the latest rolling 7-day average for the positivity rate in the county. That number is at 4.5 percent. That’s the lowest rate St. Clair County has seen since the pandemic began.
As the rate drops, many restaurant owners are struggling to stay in business due to a ban on indoor dining. Those state restrictions will remain in place because the Illinois Department of Public Health makes decisions based on larger regions instead of individual counties.
St. Clair County is part of Region 4 and the positivity rate for the entire region has not been low enough for the state to lift restrictions.
“We have to be below 6.5 percent in the region for 3 days in a row,” said Kern. “At that point, we can go back to indoor dining and enjoying some of the things we were doing just about a month ago.”
Some business owners have called for Governor J.B. Pritzker to allow St. Clair County to be its own region and reopen. Kerr said county leaders will continue to work to lower the rate in hopes it can bring the rate for the entire region down.