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Chicago, Cook County COVID-19 stay-home advisories: Here’s what you need to know.

Monday, November 16, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Chicago and Cook County health officials have issued advisories urging residents to stay home as much as possible to help stop the spread of COVID-19, effective Nov. 16.

In announcing the advisories, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and County Board President Toni Preckwinkle emphasized the exponential growth in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, with a record numbers of cases and increased deaths, coming close to matching the spring’s daily death toll.

The advisories aren’t mandatory stay-at-home orders like the one Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued in the spring, and the 30-day advisories come on top of a statewide stay-home advisory Illinois health officials issued for the three weeks ending Dec. 2. Chicago’s advisory is an update on prior executive orders, while Cook County’s was less formal. Evanston, which has its own public health department, has issued a similar 30-day advisory.

Here’s what health authorities are saying people should do to help stop the spread of the virus, which by Monday had infected more than 11 million people in the United States and killed close to 250,000 in the country, according to Johns Hopkins University:

Stay home as much as possible

The Chicago advisory says residents should “only leave home to go to work or school, or for essential needs such as seeking medical care, going to the grocery store or pharmacy, picking up food, or receiving deliveries.” Cook County notes leaving home for a COVID-19 test also is OK.

Leaving home? Wear a mask.

Anyone leaving home is advised to “always wear a face covering and practice social distancing by staying 6 feet away from others,” following city health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady’s spring health order on coronavirus, which orders people to wear masks in public places or face fines of $100 to $500. A statewide mask mandate also is in effect, requiring people to wear face coverings in public when they can’t maintain 6 feet of distance and in any building open to the public.

Don’t invite people over

The advisories say people shouldn’t have people in their homes unless they’re “essential workers,” such as home health care providers, educators or child care workers. Chicago has a six-person limit for at-home gatherings involving people who aren’t in your household.

Avoid travel. And cancel that big Thanksgiving meal.

The orders also caution that people should cancel traditional Thanksgiving celebrations involving inviting people over and avoid travel as much as possible. Chicago’s advisory points residents to the city’s travel quarantine rules.

Social gathering restrictions

The advisories put back in effect limits on social gatherings, both indoor and outdoor, “such as weddings, birthday parties, and other events taking place at banquet halls, event venues or similar spaces,” or any rental properties. Religious services “such as weddings or funerals” are limited to 10 people, while regular services “can continue to operate at phase four capacity levels” of a maximum of 40% capacity or 50 people maximum.

“The 10-person limit does not supersede industries that have specified capacity guidelines in place such as fitness clubs, retail stores or movie theaters,” according to the city. “However, a meeting or social event that is outside of normal operations must be within the 10-person limit (e.g., bowling alley hosting a birthday party or museum holding a book talk).”

Increased enforcement

In its order, Chicago emphasizes that city officials expect to be cracking down on businesses, including enforcing capacity limits at grocery stores and other retail stores and indoor dining and drinking. But the city also emphasized officials will be keeping an eye out and possibly issuing citations for at-home gatherings, places of worship, retail stores, salons and barber shops, theaters and health and fitness centers that violate current restrictions.



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