Green light for indoor seating: good news for business owners


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Businesses across the state are opening their doors for customers now that Phase 4 is underway, but some say they’re still waiting. Even though indoor seating is allowed, customers will still have to wear masks until they’re seated.

“We’re just trying to do as much as we can, just to bring some entertainment back to downtown,” said Neil Street Blues General Manager Michael Starks. “All the staff and all the customers are required to wear masks inside, and then we try to wear gloves whenever possible and sanitize whenever possible as well,” he explained. They’ll be offering a live DJ for the first time tonight since the start of the pandemic.

But Phase 4 isn’t enough for Farren’s Pub and Eatery owner Carolyn Farren. She says they’re still holding off on letting people eat inside.

“It was many discussions with the staff and my family, and we just felt that this was the safest option for us right now until we get a little farther into is and see how this will play out,” said Farren.

But she says their current setup is enough to keep them above water. “We’ve had a great response from the community both curbside and the outside seating.”

Customer Debra Jamieson says she prefers it this way.

“I like that they’re doing the dining outside, because I do feel more comfortable outside, in the air,” said Jamieson. Still, she’s open to other options, when that time comes. “I wouldn’t be against dining in somewhere if they were keeping the distancing and everything, you know, but I know it can get a little scarier being inside than outside.”

Customers who go inside are asked to wear their mask until they’re seated. They can keep it off while sitting down and eating, but they need to put it back on any time they’re walking around the restaurant.

People can also start working out in gyms again with Phase 4. We caught up with Crunch Fitness. General Sales Manager Calvin Armatas says there were people waiting outside their doors before they opened at 5 a.m. This opening didn’t come without a lot of preparations. They deep-cleaned the entire gym and trained staff to get ready for the new restrictions. Everyone who comes in will be temperature-checked. The machines have also been spaced out, and only 50 percent capacity will be allowed inside. That’s about 300 people.

“We also do require masks when you’re entering into the facility, as well as moving throughout the facility, so if you are coming to work out, just make sure you have a mask. If you are sitting down stationary on a piece of equipment, you are allowed to remove the mask to do your exercises, but just moving throughout the gym, we do ask that you keep the mask on consistently,” said Armatas.

Their sauna is still closed and group fitness classes are on hold, but all equipment is open for use. People are asked to clean equipment off before and after using it. Their hours have also been adjusted for time to deep clean every day, and they have staffed more people to oversee cleaning throughout the day.

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