Gov. J.B. Pritzker was urged to modify his five-step plan to re-open Illinois — by allowing restaurants to open for dine in operations with limited capacity in Phase 3 with strict safeguards for their employees and customers. The Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (IHCC) supports that request.
Illinois Restaurant Association President & CEO Sam Toia said without changes, Governor Pritzker’s plan would have a devastating impact on restaurants and bars because it would force them to wait until June 26 at the earliest to re-open to dine-in customers.
The IRA has proposed restaurants be allowed to move to Phase 3 and change the evaluation periods to every 14 days, instead of waiting 28 days between phases.
We would have a lot of restrictions. Personal protective equipment. Face coverings. Social distancing. Taking the temperature of employees when they come in to work,” Toia said.
“June 1 is still three weeks away. … Indiana, Texas, Arizona, Georgia and Tennessee are open. Let’s see if they have a spike. If they do, OK. If they don’t, I would really urge the governor to look at letting us re-open with 25% or less capacity, then use the 14-day model and, hopefully, by mid-June be at 50% capacity.”
The IRA has acknowledged restaurants operate on razor-thin margins and economic models don’t work on 25% capacity. But, with restaurants literally fighting for survival, he’s willing to take what he can get.
Restaurants are the cornerstone of every Chicago neighborhood. They guarantee thousands of jobs. The Governor’s plan is good, but I think it can be improved. What the IRA is asking looks reasonable”, said Jaime di Paulo, President & CEO of the IHCC.
If restaurants wait until the end of June, it will be 16 weeks that 50% or more of the restaurants in the city of Chicago have been closed and the other 50% are 80% down in sales.
The National Restaurant Association is predicting that 20% of the restaurants won’t re-open. That’s basically looking at the end of May. If they go until the end of June, it could be 45% or more of restaurants that never re-open. And restaurants are the soul of every neighborhood in Chicago.
The governor’s plan divided the state into four regions, each authorized to re-open on its own timeline — based on positive test results, hospital admissions for COVID-19 symptoms and ICU beds and ventilators — no region could move to the next phase without waiting 28 days.
And none could return to normal until there is either a vaccine for the coronavirus or widely available treatment. That means no gatherings larger than 50. No conventions at McCormick Place. No major festivals like Lollapalooza and Taste of Chicago. And no major sporting events with fans in attendance.
Schools, restaurants, bars, movie theaters and gyms would have to wait until Phase 4 — June 28 at the earliest — to open, and even then would have strict limits on capacity.
Business groups and their allies in the Illinois General Assembly are concerned that, by the time various regions meet those hurdles, scores of businesses already will close for good, taking thousands of jobs with them.