Bridge phase means slow return to normalcy

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — “It’s great,” said Paul Higgins. “I mean, just it’s funny how a couple few extra steps really set you back.”

Paul Higgins is now excited that the loosening of restrictions will allow him to take extra steps forward.

Restaurants, bars and stores can have more people inside. Events can be bigger. And we’re a step closer to fully reopening.

One business tells me that the bridge phase will be a slow return to normalcy and will benefit the restaurant industry as a whole.

Esquire Lounge in Champaign has done a lot of adjusting because of the pandemic.

Owners there say the change in standing room requirements during the bridge phase won’t impact them much, but they’re excited that this gets them a step closer to full capacity.

“We’re trying to make slow changes here,” said Paul Higgins, a co-owner of the restaurant. “We don’t want to just jump in feet first and then all of a sudden we can’t handle it or we don’t have the staff to handle certain thinsg.”

People who enjoy visiting downtown spots are looking forward to the change but are still being careful.

“I think it could be a little risky, but definitely good for business overall,” said Jessica Lenhart, a recent graduate at UIUC.

Arthur Albarran, a rising senior at UIUC, says outdoor seating may benefit as well.

“With everything that’s happened, I think outdoor dining is going to be a lot more popular, even though the indoor capacity might be increased,” he said. “I think that people are still going to maybe outside which might open up more outside dining.”

And beyond that, they’re looking forward to a full reopening, which could come by June 11th.

“I feel like it’s good for both business and students who just want to get out and be with friends and have that extra capacity at restaurants,” said Ethan Soloveychik, a sophomore at UIUC. “So overall, I think it’s an exciting thing, and looking forward to more capacity at that as well.”

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