ST. CLAIR COUNTY — Bars and restaurants here now are facing restrictions similar to those imposed in St. Louis city and county designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, with a curfew and stricter table seating limits to be imposed beginning Tuesday.
The rate of positive coronavirus tests in the Metro East has exceeded 8% for the third day in a row, a benchmark that Illinois health officials have warned could spur new restrictions on gatherings and businesses. On Sunday, the positivity rate reached 10.1% in St. Clair County.
A report on Sunday said 8.5% of coronavirus tests were positive in the state’s Region 4, which includes Madison, St. Clair, Bond, Clinton, Monroe, Randolph and Washington counties. The data is delayed and represents tests through Thursday. On Saturday, that number was 8.4%.
The Metro East passed the mark for the first time Friday with an 8.2% positivity rate, the highest among the 11 regions under the state’s reopening plan.
New restrictions to begin Tuesday include bars and restaurants being required to close at 11 p.m., a limit of six people per table, with tables set 6 feet apart and reservations required in order to dine or drink. Barstools will be removed from bars as no bar seating will be allowed. No dancing or standing is allowed at bars or restaurants.
“(State officials) feel that that environment is conducive to the spread of COVID,” St. Clair County Board chair Mark Kern said during a Facebook live video on Sunday. “If there’s music, then people talk loudly, (and) there’s more spray that goes on. So they want everybody to sit at a table. They’re also talking about taking reservations at restaurants and bars, and the purpose of that is to provide a record of who was there. In case someone does come down with COVID who has been at a restaurant, they’ll be able to track more easily who was there so they can isolate people so as not to spread the germ.”
Banquet halls are to be closed and party buses are not allowed. Casinos are required to close at 11 p.m. and operate at 25% capacity. Gatherings are limited to 25 people or fewer.
In order to return to more lax restrictions, the region must show a positivity rate of 6.5% or under for 14 consecutive days.
“We’re in it for the long haul,” St. Clair County Executive Director Herb Simmons said Sunday.
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Sunday reported 1,562 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 for a total of 206,081 cases and 7,744 deaths. Missouri reported totals of 67,475 cases and 1,367 deaths on Sunday, up from 66,397 cases and 1,346 deaths on Saturday.
Leah Thorsen • 314-340-8320
@leahthorsen on Twitter