Mask Up, Starting Tomorrow: Illinois Bar and Restaurant Guidelines Revised; Patrons Must Now Wear Masks

To further prevent spread of COVID-19, face coverings will be required during interactions with wait staff and food service workers

HAWTHORN WOODS, Ill. —The State of Illinois today announced revised guidelines for restaurants and bars statewide because of an increase in cases statewide. The new guidelines will require patrons to wear a mask during any interaction with wait staff, food service workers and other employees at bars and restaurants.

Patrons are currently required to wear a mask whenever on premises, except while eating and drinking at the table or bar. The new guidelines ensure that while seated, interactions between business staff and patrons can happen safely to prevent possible spread of the virus.

Beginning tomorrow, face coverings must be worn over the nose and mouth during the following interactions:

  • When patrons are approached and served by staff;
  • When servers take orders;
  • When servers deliver food and beverages, and service tables

The new guidance will also apply to other facilities with food services areas that are currently subject to the Restore Illinois guidance, such as indoor recreational facilities, museums and entertainment venues.

The guidelines go into effect Wednesday Aug. 26 and will require face coverings to be worn both in indoor and outdoor dining settings in all eleven regions in the state. Full guidelines may be found on the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) website.

“Due to a recent uptick in cases, we must take additional precautionary steps when we are out in public,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Based on conversations and input from industry and business leaders, the State of Illinois is implementing updated guidelines which will allow restaurants and bars across the state to stay open while helping protect the health and safety of patrons and staff.”

The revised guidelines announced today build on both the statewide Restore Illinois guidelines as well as the tiered mitigation strategies that are implemented when a region sees consistent increased test positivity or hospital admissions. The latest data on regional test positivity and hospitals can be found on the Illinois Department of Public Health(IDPH) website.  Daily cases for lake County can be found on Local Newsreader’s COVID-19 page. More information about the Restore Illinois guidelines and tiered mitigation measures can be found on the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) website.

“Going out for food and drinks should not be a reason or an excuse to let our guards down in the fight against COVID-19,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Director of IDPH. “IDPH and DCEO are updating current guidance to make it clear that face coverings should be worn in any situation where we are interacting with those outside of our immediate circles.  We will continue to adapt our guidelines and institute additional precautions to help protect all residents that make up our communities.”

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has worked with industry leaders, who have requested heightened measures to protect the safety of workers in light of the recent increase in cases, and to further reduce the risk of spread that could harm business operations.

Phase 4 regulations remain in effect in ten out of the eleven regions across the state. Currently, bars and restaurants remain open with capacity restrictions to allow for social distancing – with seated parties of 10 or less, tables spaced 6-feet apart, and standing areas at no more than 25 percent capacity indoors.

Region four, located in Southern Illinois, is currently operating under increased mitigations following a sharp increase in its COVID-19 positivity rate, and Region seven, which encompasses Kankakee and Will counties, will soon institute additional mitigation measures to take effect tomorrow to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

DCEO has worked with IDPH to develop extensive public health guidelines since May, providing information and resources to help protect businesses and communities in reopening safely. For more on industry guidelines, visit DCEO’s website at https://dceocovid19resources.com/restore-illinois.

By Margo Pelak

Margo Pelak is founder and managing editor of the Local Newsreader, which covers hyper-local news in Hawthorn Woods, Lake Zurich and Mundelein. She resides in Hawthorn Woods with her husband Dennis and two wild beasts named Ladybug and Juney P.

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