CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — The city has put a time limit on how late bars and restaurants can stay open as they prepare to allow outdoor seating under the new exceptions to the governor’s executive order.
Champaign is requiring these businesses to close by 10:00 pm, while other surrounding cities have chosen not to impose a rule for when places have to shut down.
Restaurants and bars in Illinois have been rushing to rearrange their seating this past week. Bar owners are expecting an massive rush of customers on Friday. The governor’s unexpected announcement to allow businesses to open outdoor seating amidst the coronavirus pandemic pushed them to make a lot of changes.
Part of the guidelines for reopening outdoor seating include six feet of separation between each of the tables. The city of Champaign is tacking on the extra rule of a time limit. Jason Fowler, owner of Pour Bros. Craft Taproom in Champaign says, “We are trying to maintain social distancing so honestly as hard as it is to not be fully operational, it makes sense to me to start slow and see how things are before we open up the floodgates.”
In many other cities there is no time restriction, so businesses there can stay open as late as normal. The city of Urbana hasn’t placed a time cap on when restaurants and bars have to close. But some bars are choosing to close early anyway. Ben Manns, owner of Bunny’s Tavern in Urbana says, “Our plan is to abide by the 10:00 pm curfew that Champaign has created.”
With so many constantly changing guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic, Manns says they’re trying to play it safe. ”People have been waiting in anticipation for bars to reopen. If every place in Champaign closes at 10:00 and people want to still stay out, I could just see a flood of people coming from across town and that’s not something we want to deal with right now.”
The city of Champaign released a statement regarding the time restriction. It says in part…
“We chose to proceed with a “slow” start to ensure the reopening can be done safely for customers and employees….We are going to see how it goes this weekend and there will be a meeting next week where business owners can share their experiences and we can determine the best path forward at that point.”