Illinois Metro East Casinos Required to Close Earlier Because of High COVID-19 Positivity Rate

  • The Metro East region has had a COVID-19 test positivity rate above 8% for three straight days
  • Casinos must lower capacity from 50% to 25% and close by 11pm
  • The governor will enforce stricter controls if the positivity rate does not decrease within 14 days

 

 

Analog clock reading 11pm
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has placed tighter restrictions on Illinois’ Metro East casinos, including an earlier closing time of 11pm, because of a coronavirus case spike in the region. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Restrictions increase with coronavirus cases

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and the state Department of Public Health have announced new mitigation efforts for one region of the state due to an increase in COVID-19 positivity rates. Metro East (Region 4) has seen three consecutive days of an 8% or higher coronavirus test positivity rate. Because of this, tighter restrictions went into effect on August 18, including a requirement that casinos, bars, and restaurants close at 11pm.

If the metrics do not improve in two weeks, the state will implement even tighter restrictions.

Party buses are banned and gatherings are now restricted to 25 people or fewer. The state has set a 25% room capacity for businesses. If the metrics do not improve in two weeks, the state will implement even tighter restrictions.

Standing firm

Governor Pritzker stated in a news release that during this pandemic, he has made it clear that political pressure and scheduled dates will not play a role in his effort to protect the people of Illinois. He said that if the data shows that the reopening phase needs to go backward, then that is what will take place.

Metro East, which borders St. Louis, is one of 11 newly defined COVID-19 tracking regions in Illinois. The area has passed an 8% seven-day rolling average positivity rate for COVID-19. Governor Pritzker reminded the public that this is:

a trend that I have made clear would trigger stricter mitigations when this plan was announced in July.”

Metro East casinos

Illinois casinos were allowed to reopen on July 1. The state set strict reopening requirements, with health and safety protocols clearly outlined for operators to follow. Casinos had to submit reopening plans to the gaming board for approval. At the time, casinos were allowed to operate at 50% capacity; this will now be cut in half because of the new restrictions.

When the casinos reopened, players did not hesitate to get back to gaming. In July, the casinos earned $82.6m as admissions to the venues came in at over 483,000.

The capacity limit was not an issue upon reopening, but some casinos did have trouble with customers refusing to wear a mask.

Casinos will have to tighten up as these new restrictions go into effect. If coronavirus cases continue to trend upward, the governor may choose to close again completely to try to slow the spread.

As of Tuesday evening, the Metro East counties had 212 new cases. The state total is now at over 211,800 cases and just over 8,000 deaths.