'Whenever possible, stay home': Pritzker announces new COVID restrictions across Illinois

With COVID-19 surging across Illinois and the nation, Governor JB Pritzker is imposing additional mitigations across the state to slow the spread of the virus.

The Tier 3 resurgence mitigations will take effect statewide at 12:01 am on Friday, November 20, 2020.

“To stop this spread and preserve some semblance of the holidays, all of us need to do more than just wear our masks now – though masks are mandatory throughout the state. The simple fact is that COVID-19 is spreading so quickly and so widely, and our hospitals are beginning to experience real strain and at the current infection rate they will be overwhelmed. So whenever possible, we need you to stay home,” Governor Pritzker said in a statement.

The latest round of mitigations aims to limit gatherings and encourages residents to stay home as much as possible and follow proper safety measures when out in public.

“There is no denying that the state is headed in the wrong direction with increased cases, hospitalizations, and deaths,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. “There also is no denying that reducing the opportunities for the virus to spread can reverse our direction.  This includes staying home as much as possible, wearing a mask and keeping social distance when we do have to go out, and not gathering with people outside our households.”

While this latest round of mitigations does not include a stay-at-home order, if the mitigations are not adhered to and cases continue to rise in the weeks ahead, another order may be required, officials said.

“If these numbers don’t start to curve,” Pritzker said, “then it is clear that we’re going to have to take more difficult measures and go to a stay-at-home order.”

Across the state, additional mitigation measures taking effect Friday include guidance for the following settings and industries:

•    Retail
•    Personal Car Services
•    Health and Fitness Centers
•    Hotels
•    Manufacturing
•    Bars and Restaurants
•    Meetings and Social Events
•    Offices
•    Organized Group Recreational Activities 
•    Indoor Recreation, Theater, Cultural Institutions

As they have since the start of COVID-19, grocery stores across the state will remain open and available. Childcare facilities may continue to operate subject to guidelines from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. School districts and officials should continue to follow the extensive guidance released by the Illinois State Board of Education in August to make decisions related to in-person and remote learning at the local level.

In addition, museums and casinos across the state will close down beginning Friday, and retail spaces will see capacity limits. Large stores, such as Walmart, will have their capacity limited to 25% from the current 50%, though grocery stores will be excluded and can operate at 50% capacity. Gyms will also be capped at 25% and indoor classes will no longer be allowed.

To prevent the further spread of COVID-19, Illinois residents are urged to stay home as much as possible and celebrate upcoming holidays with direct members of their household.

Pritzker said he will be apart from his family during the holiday and plans to spend Thanksgiving with his teenage son in Chicago while his wife and teenage daughter will stay in Florida “indefinitely.” Pritzker owns an equestrian farm in Florida.

Pritzker spelled out his family’s decision during a Tuesday briefing with reporters in Chicago where he became visibly agitated and paused to compose himself. He said his family has faced unfounded scrutiny and threats, including on social media, for not adhering to social distancing measures. Recently, an attorney who has brought lawsuits against Pritzker’s COVID-19 orders offered $1,000 to those providing footage of “Pritzker out celebrating Thanksgiving with friends and family,” according to a Facebook post.

“Just like all of you, I want to be with my family for the holidays,” Pritzker said. “And just like all of you, because of COVID, my family is having to make sacrifices to stay safe.”


“Until a vaccine is widely available and people understand the importance of being vaccinated, we must continue to take preventive actions to stop the transmission of the virus.  Right now, our preventive actions are the best way to prevent new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths,” Dr. Ezike said in a statement.

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Tuesday reported 12,601 newly diagnosed cases of COVID-19, raising the state’s confirmed coronavirus total to 597,849.

Associated Press contributed to this report.