Illinois Henry and Stark counties are making moves to reopen indoor dining against the governor’s orders.
The health department announced yesterday temporary changes to the current Tier 3 mitigations for the area’s restaurant and bars.
Starting tomorrow, restaurants can serve customers indoors at a 25% capacity.
It’s been just over one month since Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker made the call to close all indoor dining across the state. The restrictions have left local businesses like Fernando’s Mexican Restaurant in Kewanee doing what they can to keep their doors open.
“We respect the restrictions, and we’ve been shut down since November 4th. But it is pretty hard to lose business,” owner Fernando Anaya said.
Empty seats inside are their reality currently, but Anaya said takeout and delivery is keeping their doors open.
“It’s a huge difference, but at least we are paying bills,” he said.
ReaAnn Tucker, the director of health promotion for the department, says they want to help their small businesses stay afloat.
“A lot of the things that we were seeing in our contact tracing, most of that is long term [care] facilities, and we were not seeing a direct link primarily to bars and restaurants,” she said.
“And we’ve wanted to work with our businesses, and give them the best chance they can.”
She said the only change to the current mitigations are to reopen indoor dining. Masks and social distancing will still be required.
“90% of the restrictions are still in place,” she said.
Keeping customers healthy is something Ayana said he takes seriously.
“Health is first. And the rest, it can come later,” he said.
Tucker said they will continue to monitor contact tracing and COVID-19 case numbers for the county.
The governor has not allowed mitigations to be lifted for any county.