Tier 1 vs. Phase 4, Explained: The Differences in Illinois’ Coronavirus Mitigation Levels


Illinois took another step forward in its fight to help contain the spread of coronavirus on Monday, moving two of its health care regions back into Phase 4 of the “Restore Illinois” plan.

The decision marks the first time since mid-November that a region has been placed back into that plan, thanks to the lower positivity rates and decreases in hospitalizations that Region 3, located in western Illinois, and Region 5, in the southern portion of the state, are seeing.

With the state now once again utilizing its “phased” coronavirus mitigation strategy, along with its newer tiered-system that was designed to cope with increases in cases over the fall, some residents may be asking a simple question: what’s the big difference between Phase 4 and Tier 1?

To help, we’ve broken down some of the significant differences between Tier 1, the lowest-tier of restrictions in the state’s newest COVID-19 mitigation effort, and Phase 4, which existed in the previously-existing “Restore Illinois” plan.

Bars and Restaurants:

In Tier 1 –

All bars and restaurants must close at 11pm

Indoor service is limited to 25 guests or 25% capacity, whichever is lower

Establishments offering indoor service MUST serve food

No dancing or standing indoors

Reservations required for all parties

In Phase 4 –

Indoor bar service may resume without restrictions requiring food service

All other occupancy limitations, including prohibition on standing indoors, remain in place

Meetings and Social Gatherings:

In Tier 1 –

Limit of 25 guests or 25% of room capacity in place

No party buses

In Phase 4 –

Limit of 50 guests, or 25% of room capacity

Party buses allowed

Organized Group Recreational Activities:

In Tier 1 –

Face coverings must be worn inside fitness centers, regardless of spacing

Recreation, fitness centers and outdoor activities should follow Phase 4 guidance

In Phase 4 –

All Tier 1 requirements remain in place, with all barbershops, salons, spas, health and fitness clubs open with capacity limits and IDPH approved safety guidance


In Phase 4 –

Cinema and movie theaters can reopen with capacity limits

Here are some other Phase 4 requirements for area residents to pay attention to:

-All businesses deemed “non-essential” can allow employees to return to work with IDPH safety guidance in place.

-Manufacturing facilities can be opened with IDPH approved guidance.

-Schools, colleges and child care can safely open to in-person instruction with safety guidance in place.

-All health care providers are allowed to open.

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January 18, 2021 at 05:33PM