CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Campustown bars are being watched more closely after photos surfaced showing them packed last weekend.
To combat that, an executive order was signed by Champaign Mayor Deb Feinen says bars operating at an outdoor and indoor capacity of 200 people or more may be subject to fines, or worse.
“This provides a tool then to temporarily suspend the license or to shut the bar down and empty the place out if we need to do that,” says Feinen. “It’s making sure we have the tools as we work with them on compliance.”
The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District worked with the city on the Executive Order. Deputy Administrator Awais Vaid says they have seen a jump in cases during Phase Four.
“The troubling fact is that a lot of the cases that we are seeing now are the younger individuals, people in their teens, twenties, and thirties,” says Vaid.
Health officials are worried about precautions going by the wayside for the holiday weekend, but the city has pinpointed another event that could be at risk of spreading the virus.
Mayor Feinen says they were told about a Greek Reunion at UIUC that is supposed to happen next week. The new order helps them try and prevent that from getting out of control.
“The university has strongly asked students to stay home and not come for that,” says Feinen. “But making it clear that this isn’t a place that it’s going to be welcoming for that kind of risk taking.”
The Executive Order still needs to be approved by City Council. Mayor Feinen says she hopes they will retroactively do so at Tuesday’s meeting. They will be monitoring Campustown in the meantime.
“Employees of Public Health as well as city officials will be monitoring these establishments very closely,” says Vaid. “Including going in-person over there to monitor them as well. If we see that they are not following those guidelines, there will be consequences.”
Also under the order, only people 21 and over are allowed in the bars after 9 p.m. It is one of the other ways they are trying to prevent the spread. People under 21 are still allowed in the bars before that. Mayor Feinen says that is because they did not want to hurt the bars who rely on food sales.