Rockford's Independent Newspaper

Outdoor seating allowed May 29 at Illinois bars, restaurants

By Jim Hagerty

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois bars and restaurants will be permitted to offer outdoor seating at the end of the month, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Wednesday.

The announcement moves the provisions for eateries and saloons from Phase 4 to Phase 3 of the governor’s five-phase Restore Illinois plan to restart an economy that’s been nearly decimated under what’s now been a nine-week stay-at-home order.

Beginning May 29, outdoor dining will be permitted with tables 6 feet apart, social distancing and servers wearing masks.

The governor said he was prepared to stand by his five-phase plan as it was written, but after consulting epidemiologists and others across the state, he felt ready to make adjustments.

“We are by no means out of the woods, but directionally, things are getting better,” Pritzker said. “And because of these advances, we are able to make some modifications to allow more activity during Phase 3 of our reopening plan. Our mission has always been to get people back to work, get students back to school and return to as much normalcy as possible without jeopardizing the health and safety of Illinoisans.”

Sam Toia, president of the Illinois Restaurant Association, called the governor’s announcement a “glimmer of light at the end of a very dark tunnel,” and urged municipalities to rally around the service industry.

“Let’s close down the streets,” he said. “Let’s expand sidewalk cafes, use parking lots. Let’s show the world how innovative Illinois is. Innovative outdoor dining strategies extend a lifeline – restoring jobs and offering guests the hospitality experience they’ve been missing while prioritizing public health and safety.”

As of Wednesday, nearly 600,000 service-industry workers are sidelined and 20% of the state’s restaurants have closed permanently.

It is still unclear if churches will be allowed to expand their capacities in Phase 3. Local leaders announced earlier this week a plan to reopen houses of worship with restrictions. That would require approval from the Illinois Department of Public Health though and, so far, the governor has only approved a plan presented by the Catholic Church.

According to an agreement with the state, Catholic churches are permitted to host “small gatherings” for weddings, funerals and prayer meetings. Other faiths must limit their services to 10 people or outdoor “drive-by” worship in parking lots, where people remain in their cars.

Other Phase 3 changes

Outdoor activities
With the start of phase 3, all state parks will reopen on May 29.  All concession will reopen as well under guidelines set for our retail and food service businesses in Phase 3. Illinois will permit the re-opening of indoor and outdoor tennis facilities with Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) safety precautions and capacity limits.

For golf, in Phase 3, courses can allow foursomes out on the same tee times. Carts will also be permitted with one person per cart, or one immediate household per cart.

With the new ten person gathering limit for all activities in Phase 3, boating or camping with up to ten people will be permitted.

The state will be providing guidance on how other outdoor recreational businesses, such as driving ranges, outdoor shooting ranges, and paintball courses can safely open their doors in Phase 3.

Health clubs, retail, and personal care services
In Phase 3, health clubs, gyms, and fitness studios can provide one-on-one personal training in indoor facilities and outdoor fitness classes of up to ten people.

Personal care services, like nail salons, tattoo shops, hair braiders, spas and barbershops, can open with IDPH safety precautions and capacity limits.

And all retail stores can open their doors to in-person shopping with IDPH safety precautions and capacity limits in place.

Local governments retain the right to establish stricter restrictions in any areas.

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