SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA)– Restaurants and bars have been reopened for indoor seating for a little over two weeks since Illinois moved into Phase 4 of Governor Pritzker’s reopening plan. Some areas are seeing increases in cases of COVID-19 connected to those openings. It is a trend that’s been happening nationally with states like California already making moves to shut down indoor dining. Leaders around the Capital City are looking into ways to stop that from happening here.
Public health leaders are asking people in Springfield to stay vigilant as they go out to eat.
“It really seems to be people’s behaviors that are putting them at risk,” said Sangamon County Department of Public Health Director Gail O’Neill.
Since indoor dining at bars and restaurants were permitted again, several businesses in the Springfield and Chatham area have temporarily shut down due to an employee testing positive for COVID-19.
“Are people staying away from each other? You see some that just don’t seem to take it seriously or be concerned with it,” O’Neill said. “I think the volume of testing we are seeing the last couple days here in the testing site in our parking lot it seems like more people are knowing someone who’s testing positive for COVID and maybe that has prompted them to think about their behavior.”
Mayor Jim Langfelder pushed for area restaurants to open for indoor seating during Phase Three of the governor’s plan. After seeing this new trend, he said it is something the city is watching.
“That’s always concerning,” Langfelder said about the cases connected to restaurants. “I’m more of an advocate for the seat per person rules and six feet apart per table moving that direction. We’re taking a look at what we can do.”
While most businesses have voluntarily shut down for cleaning when an employee tested positive, Langfelder says the city is looking into a stiffer penalty for those who don’t follow protocols to protect the health of the public.
“We are at if we can use the liquor license as a point of discipline for those that aren’t adhering or aren’t complying and they are putting others in jeopardy. We are taking a look at that because the governor did grant municipalities the authority to suspend the liquor license for up to a week in certain situations.”
The mayor said a liquor license suspension would come after multiple other warnings.
Governor Pritzker maintains the state could go back to a previous phase if we start to see more cases and higher positivity rates.