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Winnebago County Health Department releases guidelines for bars, restaurants and churches in Phase 3 of ‘Restore Illinois’ plan

By Jim Hagerty

ROCKFORD – The Winnebago County Health Department, on Wednesday, released guidelines for bars, restaurants and churches as they enter Phase 3 of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s “Restore Illinois” plan.

Starting Friday, bars and restaurants are permitted to offer outdoor dining and drinking after more than two months of carryout only.

Tables must be six fee apart; those who are not seated must wear face coverings and practice proper social distancing, the health department’s guidelines say. Only six people per table. Servers are also required to wear masks.

Establishments must also post signage, reminding patrons that they should not enter a dining or bar area if they have a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19.

If possible, entry to outdoor seating areas is not to be through the restaurant.

Temporary outdoor cooking is allowed with portable hand wash stations. Food preparation and plating must take place inside the kitchen.

Patrons may be allowed to use indoor restrooms. Health officials recommend patrons wear face coverings while using them. Restrooms are to be cleaned and disinfected hourly.

Live music is permitted with social distancing.

Churches, places of worship
Although the Restore Illinois plan does not call for churches to resume in-person services at full capacity until Phase 5, local health officials have developed guidance for houses of worship as part of the Rockford Region Rebounding plan. Guidance included input from Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and Unitarian faith communities, in conjunction with the Winnebago County Health Department.

Outdoor or drive-through services are preferred. Worshippers are encouraged to bring their own chairs and be seating six feet apart. Face coverings are recommend for anyone older than 2 who can medically tolerate one. Vulnerable people–those older than 65 and anyone with a preexisting condition or compromised immune system– are advised to refrain from in-person worship in Phase 3.

Indoor worship
Indoor seating capacity should not exceed one person for every 113 square feet, the health department recommends. Each household member sitting as a group will add 25 square feet to that requirement. Shared items like hymnals, offering plates and bulletins should not be used. Congregational signing, choirs or bands are also not recommended.

Worship space should be disinfected between services, restrooms hourly.

“Our ministries and our faith communities are essential,” the Winnebago County Health Department said in a release. “How we live those ministries and tend to our communities must be flexible, creative, faithful, and center on our love for one another. Religious communities have persisted and adapted through numerous past disruptions, including pandemics, persecutions, wars, and technological changes, and with thoughtful perseverance we will survive the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced 1,111 new cases of COVID-19, including 160 additional deaths, statewide Wednesday. There have now been 114,306 cases, including 5,083 deaths, in 100 counties . Within the past 24 hours, laboratories processed 17,179 coronavirus tests for a total of 803,973.  The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity from May 20-26 is 8.6%.

Read the full guidelines

This story has been updated.

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