SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) - Sangamon County is getting ready to slightly relax COVID-19 mitigations for bars and restaurants due to improving statistics. 

A Wednesday press release said the county has seen multiple COVID-19 data points significantly drop. The county averaged over 300 new cases each day in mid-November, with that number falling to less than 80 per day in late December. Furthermore, the 7-day rolling average of positivity fell from 16.8 percent on Nov. 14 to 5.7 percent on Dec. 26. 

A critical reopening metric for relaxing mitigation measures, based on Illinois Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, has been a 7-day rolling average positivity rate of 6.5 percent for seven consecutive days. Sangamon County said it has met this benchmark. 

The county said it still has a critical ICU capacity of below the 20 percent threshold suggested by IDPH. Officials said they reviewed the metric and believe it does not accurately reflect "our hospitals' quick adaptability under standing operating procedures." Hospital bed availability has been over the 20 percent threshold, the county noted, and it cited low flu infections and hospitalizations as reasons for this. 

Sangamon County said it will soon release new orders allowing indoor operation of bars and restaurants at 25 percent capacity. These orders will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 3. 

The county said "significant indoor mitigations" will still be needed, including specific measures for continued social distancing, hours of operation, face coverings, hand washing and sanitizing stations, live music/dancing and circulation. 

Businesses will not be allowed to start serving the public until 6 a.m. under the new mitigations and must stop indoor service by 9 p.m. Customers will not be allowed in indoor serving areas after 9:30 p.m., and previous orders and guidelines for outdoor dining will still be in effect. 

The county will limit the number of customers at one table to 10 people. Unrelated customer groups will not be allowed to sit at the same table. 

Sangamon County wants a reservation name and phone number for one person in each group to be kept for 30 days and be available for the county when requested.

See the PDF document attached to this story for the full new mitigation measures. 

The county said it will resume more strict mitigations if a spike in community transmission of COVID-19 happens. Metrics for a return to tighter guidelines include: 

  • 7 day rolling average of 8% or greater positivity for 7 consecutive days
  • Hospital bed availability (ICU as well as Medical/Surgical) with 3 day rolling average of less than 20%
  • 7 day rolling average of COVID-19 patients in the hospital showing an increasing trend.

"We are extremely hopeful that with the arrival of the vaccines we will continue to see a steady reduction in our community’s suffering from the virus," Sangamon County officials said. "However, it is important to note that this virus has a tendency for resurgence, as seen in our community three times in the last 10 months. We should not let our guard down even as we relax some of our mitigations to assist our struggling businesses. The community must continue to wear masks, wash hands, and practice social distancing."

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