Illinois has had to act quickly and introduce new temporary anti-COVID-19 measures responding to infection rate of 8% or higher in three consecutive days.
New Restrictions Hit Illinois Casino Gaming as COVID-19 Cases Increase
Illinois is returning to tougher anti-pandemic measures with the enactment of a passel of newly-voted in measures that came in effect on Wednesday, August 26. As per those measures, specific regions in the state, including Region 7 based in Northeastern Illinois, and Region 4, must now enact further mitigation steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Some regions have been able to miss the first round of measures, which Illinois is trying to tailor to the specific needs of every affected area. For example, Region 4, just outside of St. Louis, will have to enforce new restrictions on September 1.
The measures are triggered based on the calculations of Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) which has laid out a threshold specifying the rate at which infections merit a tougher response from health and state officials.
According to the health authorities, a positive testing rate of 8% in three consecutive days in Region 4 and Region 7 necessitates swift action. Instead of enforcing blanket bans, though, the IDPH looks for a more tailored approach that assesses each region separately and offers tailored solutions.
Restrictions Based on Local Needs and Best Practices
These restrictions naturally affect casinos. Specifically in Region 7, which is located southward from Chicago, the Hollywood Casino Joliet and Harrah’s Casino Joliet will have to stick to working hours between 8 am and 11 pm local time.
Occupancy at the properties has been set at 25% from previously 50%. The Illinois health authorities are not too severe in their restrictions either.
They have stuck to suggestions that work elsewhere, including limiting casino businesses to not serve food and beverages on their premises for the time being. However, casinos can still proceed with outdoor services, including curbside and carryout options.
Similar to Nevada’s own restrictions, Illinois doesn’t allow players from congregating around slot machines or table games. Sanitizing and social distancing protocols are now in place to prevent the further spread of infection, or so the authorities hope, drawing on the experience of the Silver State.
Region 4 Prepares to Enact New Measures on September 1
These aren’t the only measures the state is enforcing. On September 1, Region 4 will also suspend food and beverages services at Casino Queen x DraftKings and Argosy Casino Alton. Once again, any service outside of the casino, such as curbside and carryout options will remain available.
Now, as Gambling News reported, new anti-COVID-19 measures were already introduced last week, with Metro East’s positive test rate averaging 8% or higher for three consecutive days. The tests were conducted between August 14 and August 16.
Illinois has urged every operator to follow through with the issued recommendations lest they face serious regulatory action, including but not limited to license revocation. The state’s governor, J.B. Pritzker, introduced online registration at sportsbooks earlier this week looking to impact the COVID-19 effect.
Moving forward, the IDPH will look to reduce the measures, but only if the rate of infections falls down enough. For example, in the 14-day period during which these restrictions would apply, the IDPH will monitor the spread of COVID-19 and make decisions accordingly.
Ideally, health experts want to see the infections rate drop to 6.4% or lower so that Region 4 and Region 7 can go back to Phase 4 of reopening.