Restaurants Eagerly Await Reopening This Week

Jun 22, 2020
Originally published on June 24, 2020 2:02 pm

The State of Illinois will enter Phase Four of its pandemic recovery plan this Friday June 26, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced.  The move comes as all areas of the state are meeting metrics for overall levels of COVID-19 and available health services for those seriously ill with the virus.

One of the most talked about aspects of the next phase is that diners will be allowed inside restaurants.  

A number of restaurants used to serving diners inside have been making a living offering curbside service.  Illinois Restaurant Association President Sam Toia said that the last 12 weeks have been devastating for business.

“We started with 594,000 people working in the industry at the beginning of the year and 321,000 are either on unemployment or furlough," he said. “But we're seeing some light at the end of the tunnel here as we move into Phase Four. What we see as the governor, you know, confirms that the state is ready to safely reopen, that you have to have your tables six feet apart, social distancing is very, very important."

The association is encouraging workers to wear face coverings and gloves and to clean hands frequently.  Groups of diners will be separated by at least six feet.   Toia is also asking diners to give a bit.

“So it's very important when you go into a restaurant you have your face cover on.  Then when you sit down you can take it off while you are eating, but if you get up to go to the restroom, you put your face covering back on,” said Toia.

Toia expects about 80% of food establishments to still be in business. 

Phase Four also means there can be larger gatherings and it will allow for the openings of fitness centers and theaters, along with zoos and museums.  Funeral homes will also be able to hold services, all with crowd limitations.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield will reopen the museum portion on July 1.

“We are going to be selling tickets online only to reduce the contact between people here at the museum. We will have fewer showings of our theatrical presentations so that we can clean in between shows and we will ask our audience members to sit farther apart”,  said spokesman Chris Wills, who adds that face coverings will be required.  The Presidential Library portion of the facility will only be open by appointment.

“Just to make sure everything is back in top shape, we have to get all of our artifacts back in display cases, which is quite a process and a delicate one," said Wills.

While it would be allowed, some major movie theater chains will not be open this Friday.  Regal Theaters will begin showing films July 10, while AMC is waiting until July 15 to begin showing films.

Brookfield Zoo is set for a public opening on July 8 and the Lincoln Park Zoo officially opens June 29.  

It is unknown how long Illinois will remain in the fourth phase. The Governor has said in the past that the state could remain at this level until a vaccine is developed or an effective treatment is discovered for the disease.

While scshools and colleges are still finalizing plans for the fall, moving to Phase Four was considered vital for a return to classroom instruction. 

The following was part of a Pritzker Administration news release:

Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan creates safety guidelines for the following permitted activities and businesses to resume, with capacity rules in place:

  • Meetings and events: Venues and meeting spaces can resume with the lesser of up to 50 people OR 50% of overall room capacity. Multiple groups are permitted given facilities have space to appropriately social distance and can limit interaction between groups. This includes activities such as conferences and weddings.
  • Indoor and Outdoor recreation: Revised guidelines to allow select indoor recreation facilities (e.g., bowling alleys, skating rinks), as well as clubhouses to reopen. Indoor recreation to operate at lesser of 50 customers OR 50% of facility capacity with outdoor recreation allowing group sizes of up to 50, and permitting multiple groups given facilities have space to appropriately social distance and can limit interaction between groups; concessions permitted with restrictions.
  • Indoor Dining: Indoor dining can reopen with groups of 10 or less, with tables spaced 6-feet apart in seated areas and with standing areas at no more than 25% of capacity.
  • Museums: Can reopen with no more than 25% occupancy, and with interactive exhibits and rides closed; guided tours should be limited to 50 people or fewer per group; museums should have a plan to limit congregation via advance ticket sales and timed ticketing; concessions permitted with restrictions.
  • Zoos: Can reopen with no more than 25% occupancy, and with interactive exhibits, indoor exhibits, and rides closed; guided tours should be limited to 50 people or fewer per group; zoos should have a plan to limit congregation via advance ticket sales and timed ticketing; concessions permitted with restrictions.
  • Cinema and Theatre: Indoor seated theaters, cinemas, and performing arts centers to allow admission of the lesser of up to 50 guests OR 50% of overall theater or performance space capacity (applies to each screening room); outdoor capacity limited to 20% of overall theater or performance space capacity; concessions permitted with restrictions.
  • Outdoor seated spectator events: Outdoor spectator sports can resume with no more than 20% of seating capacity; concessions permitted with restrictions.

    Film production: Allow no more than 50% of sound stage or filming location capacity; crowd scenes should be limited to 50 people or fewer.

Industries with revised guidelines in Phase 4:

  • Youth and Recreational Sports: Revised guidelines allow competitive gameplay and tournaments; youth and recreational sports venues can operate at 50% of facility capacity, 20% seating capacity for spectators, and group sizes up to 50 with multiple groups permitted during practice and competitive games given venues have space to appropriately social distance and can limit interaction between groups; concessions permitted with restrictions.
  • Health and fitness centers: Revised guidelines allow gyms to open at 50% capacity and allow group fitness classes of up to 50 people with new safety guidelines for indoors, with multiple groups permitted given facilities have space to appropriately social distance and can limit interaction between groups.
  • Day camps: Water-based activities permitted in accordance with IDPH guidelines; no more than 50% of facility capacity with group size of no more than 15 participants in a group, unless participants changing weekly.

Additionally, retail, service counters, offices, personal care (including salons, barber, nail salons), manufacturing and other industries allowed to reopen in Phase 3 will continue to operate at a reduced capacity.

Copyright 2020 NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS. To see more, visit NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS.