Coronavirus Illinois: Downstate county that includes Capitol, Springfield, plans to reopen indoor dining, defying governor

SANGAMON COUNTY, Ill. (WLS) -- A downstate county is planning to defy the state by allowing indoor dining at 25% capacity this Sunday, despite COVID-19-related deaths increasing.

Sangamon County, which includes the Illinois State Capitol Springfield, said it's reached the metrics required to lift some restrictions.

But Gov. JB Pritzker is firing back.

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In a statement Wednesday, his office said Region 3, which includes Sangamon County, "would not meet the metrics to move back to tier two today. And even if the region did, indoor dining is not allowed under tier two mitigation. It's time for local officials to step up and remember that being a leader doesn't mean making the easy choice, it means doing everything you can to protect the people who trust you to serve them."

Much of the state has been prohibited from allowing indoor dining since the end of October, as COVID-19 cases and related deaths and hospitalizations surged throughout the state.

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Read the full statement from the governor's office:

"The mitigation plan put in place by the state of Illinois is based on science and relies on the best advice of public health experts from around this state and nation. Many states have implemented restrictions on indoor dining because the science is clear: sitting indoors for extended periods of time with other people unmasked carries increased risk of spreading this virus.

"December has been the deadliest month on record since the start of this pandemic and to date we have lost more than 16,000 Illinoisans to this deadly virus. The nation's leading experts, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, are warning that January could be 'nightmarish' as we grapple with another possible surge after holiday gatherings. Just this week, Region 3's positivity rate has increased one percentage point and Region 3, which covers 17 counties, has just 45 ICU beds available. As the Governor has said, the public health experts needs to closely monitor the data after the holidays to gauge the spread of the virus. Once the experts agree that we have averted another surge, then regions will be able to move back to lower tiers in the mitigation plan. But, to be abundantly clear, Region 3 would not meet the metrics to move back to tier two today, and even if the region did, indoor dining is not allowed under tier two mitigation.

"Preventing widespread illness and death is the most basic function of government. The Governor has worked every day making the difficult and terrible choices that will save the most lives. It's time for local officials to step up and remember that being a leader doesn't mean making the easy choice, it means doing everything you can to protect the people who trust you to serve them."
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