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Central Illinois Prepares For Renewed COVID-19 Mitigations

The seating area is closed-off due to coronavirus restrictions at a food court, as customers line up for take-out food in a grocery store in Arlington Heights, Ill., on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020.
The seating area is closed-off due to coronavirus restrictions at a food court, as customers line up for take-out food in a grocery store in Arlington Heights, Ill., on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020.

With COVID-19 spread's now exponentially increasing in every region of the state, all 11 regions will move into Tier 3 restrictions on Friday. With the new mitigations in place, certain businesses and entities are going to have to again rethink the way they operate.

Gov. JB Pritzker's order again closes down museums, movie theaters, and casinos. Retailers, salons, and other businesses also face tightened restrictions, as public health officials try to tamp down on the coronavirus' spread in recent weeks.

The Peoria Riverfront Museum is turning to social media platforms to continue offering its programming under Pritzker's latest COVID-19 restrictions.

Cathie Neumiller, the museum's vice president for marketing and communications, said it will use Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and its own website to continue digital engagement and learning opportunities.

"Our education team has just created, on the Google education platform, a whole slew of education opportunities. They've worked very closely with Peoria Public Schools to do so," she said.

Neumiller said the Virtual Riverfront Museum will live-stream guitarists playing from their homes on YouTube as part of their current "Instrument that Rocked the World" exhibit.

She said the hope is the museum will be able to reopen at some point in December.

The Peoria Park District also is adjusting on the fly to the latest COVID-19 restrictions.

Park District Executive Director Emily Cahill said all parks and trails will remain open, but the RiverPlex and other recreation centers will need to adjust to the new guidelines.

"As much as possible, where we can keep people outside and we can keep them active safely, we're going to do that," said Cahill. "We're looking at shifting to more virtual programming in those places where we can."

Cahill said the district will not be able to hold open gyms, pickle ball games or yoga classes, but staff hopes to move dance classes to a virtual format, and is looking at re-working the Forest Park holiday nature art show and sale in hopes of presenting the event on a smaller scale.

"We are doing our best to continue to serve our community at the highest level possible, while still really remaining diligent in our effort to support the state's public health requirements," Cahill said.

Salons are ordered to operate with no more than 25 people, or 25% capacity. Both customers and employees must wear face coverings at all times, and services like facials and beard trimming are suspended.

Paola Hinton, the owner of Five Senses Spa, Salon, and Barbershop in Peoria, said she's already found a workable solution.

"We had already adjusted our hours to open at 8 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays," Hinton said. "By extending those hours, it actually helps us distribute people on longer spans of hours, instead of more condensed timeframes."

Similarly, at Relics, owner Deb Opyd said she's already adopted altered operating procedures that take COVID-19 into consideration.

"In the spring, when we all got shut down, we were told to limit to five customers at a time because of the size of our store," Opyd said. "And honestly, we've kept the five-customer rule all through the summer and into the fall. I don't think things are going to change for us, because we've stayed at five, and we're going to stay at five through the holidays."

In a post on its Facebook page, the owners of Morton Cinema said they will close their doors on Friday for an estimated two weeks.

A spokesperson for Par-A-Dice Hotel & Casino parent company Boyd Gaming didn't immediately reply to a request for comment.

On Friday, Peoria's Region 2 will move from Tier 1 restrictions straight to Tier 3. In order for a region to move back to Tier 2, it must report a positivity rate of less than 12% for three consecutive days, maintain more than 20% ICU and hospital bed capacity, and see declining COVID hospitalizations for seven of the previous 10 days.

Region 2's positivity rate dropped to 16.9% on Wednesday, after two days of remaining at an all-time high of 17%.

WCBU's story.

WCBU News Director Tim Shelley contributed to this report.

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