Suburban Cook County placed under tougher coronavirus restrictions starting Wednesday that will prohibit indoor dining and bar service

Suburban Cook County and the Metro East region outside St. Louis will come under stricter rules meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 on Wednesday, including a shuttering of indoor dining and bar service.

The two regions will join four other regions of the state under stricter rules that also include a smaller gathering cap of 25 people.

The suburban Cook County region has had eight consecutive days of test positivity rate increases and seven days of increased hospital admissions. It is the first region to surpass the state-set thresholds in these two areas at the same time. The other regions that have triggered tougher rules have done so by reaching an 8% positivity rate threshold.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, we were concerned about overwhelming our hospitals and we must take action now to prevent that possibility,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. “We are entering flu season and our hospitals are facing both COVID-19 and flu admissions.”

The Metro East region will see its reopening rolled back for a second time after surpassing a test positivity rate at or above 8% for three consecutive days. The region that includes several counties in southwestern Illinois and the Illinois suburbs of St. Louis was the first to see its reopening rolled back in August, but it later reached a state threshold that allowed that to be relaxed.

Will and Kankakee counties are also under the stricter rules for a second time, and DuPage and Kane counties also saw stricter rules meant to curb spread of the virus imposed last week.

In addition to indoor dining and bar service being closed in these regions, outdoor dining will need to close at 11 p.m., reservations will be required for restaurants and outdoor dining tables should be spaced six feet apart, according to the state-imposed rules.

Casinos and other gaming facilities must also close at 11 p.m. and limit capacity to 25%.

The seven-day statewide test positivity rate rose to 6.1% over the weekend, up from 4% on Oct. 10. The state set a new high Saturday for newly diagnosed cases recorded in a single day: 6,161.

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