DCHD’s letter on county’s new mitigation restrictions

As you are probably already aware, Douglas County was moved into a mitigation phase due to the continued resurgence of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. This directive–effective Monday, Nov. 2, 2020–came from Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office on Friday, Oct. 30, 2020 and includes the following requirements.

*Bars and Restaurants: No indoor service allowed. Masking and social distancing required for outdoor service. No seating of multiple parties at one table. Reservations required for each party. Closing time of 11 p.m. and no reopening prior to 6 a.m.

*Meetings/social events/gatherings (including weddings, funerals, potlucks, etc…): Limit to lesser of 25 people or 25 percent of overall room capacity, both indoors and outdoors. No party buses. 

*Organized group recreational activities: No change. All sports guidance effective Aug. 15, 2020 remains in effect.

This order–deemed necessary by state and public health officials to curb the double-digit positivity rate–is certainly not what anyone wanted to see happen, particularly those small businesses fighting for their financial survival. It seems one life-saving measure could potentially trigger a different kind of demise.

And this is where personal accountability comes into play when you are making decisions regarding business patronage. Of course you want to support those local businesses that make up the character and lifeblood of your communities. Of course you also want to do everything in your power to keep you and your family healthy and safe during a global pandemic. 

Fortunately, with a little creativity, it’s possible to do both.

You can still have dinner from your favorite restaurant, just order it as takeout. Order extra and put a meal in the freezer for tomorrow. Order lots of extra and you’ve got the rest of the week covered at your end, while putting money into the coffers of local dining establishments. If your local watering hole or restaurant has tables outside, gather just a few friends, wear your masks, and enjoy a beverage and/or meal together. Check bar and restaurant websites for mitigation-compliant promotions.

We field numerous complaints at the health department, almost all of them quite legitimate and understandable. And while it’s easy to point fingers at businesses and industries for not following protocols to the letter, it’s human nature to forget to hold ourselves to the same standards we expect of the business community.

If you aren’t comfortable or don’t feel safe at a restaurant, bar or other shop because protocols are not being followed, don’t go in. Utilize an online shopping option with them if possible, and voice your concerns to the owner. Wear a mask when out in public, and practice social distancing whenever and wherever possible. If you are feeling ill, do not go out. 

Be aware that your private gatherings, if not mitigation compliant, could be causing your neighbors and acquaintances concern. Yes, we have already received complaints about planned events, expressing fears that they may become a source of community spread. 

It’s becoming increasingly clear there is no easy answer to ridding our county, indeed the country, of COVID-19. In truth, it will likely be a series of actions and trial-and-error measures that get us to the other side. But what it most certainly will require is a group mindset in which the betterment of the whole is at the core.

Douglas County Health Department is making every effort to keep that in mind while doing what is within our means and scope of power to protect the health and well-being of all county residents. Partnerships are truly valued here, and now more than ever, they are an integral aspect of the department’s stated mission to prevent, promote, and protect. We welcome any suggestions, and encourage you to reflect on how your personal actions can contribute to that same important goal.

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