CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WMBD) — Central Illinois is moving forward as the state rolls back COVID-19 mitigation restrictions in our area.
On Sunday, state health officials announced Region 2 is moving into Tier 1 Mitigations, meaning coronavirus restrictions would ease up. Local business owners said they’ve been waiting for this news after shutting their dining rooms in November, the time when all regions moved into Tier 3 Mitigations.
“We are so excited. We have waited for this, we’ve been patient. We’ve followed the rules we’re supposed to follow,” said Sherrie Luca, the owner of Brickhouse Burgers, BBQ & Brew in Washington.
Lucas said her business hasn’t been the same since her dining room closed.
“It’s been so quiet in here. It just drives us all crazy,” said Lucas.
She said the staff miss interacting with customers.
“They love to talk to people. They love to watch people enjoy our food, watch people enjoy our drinks,” said Lucas.
At Jalapenos in Peoria, owner Jose Leon said it was already busy Monday morning when he reopened his indoor seating.
“I think people feel safe. Especially if you do things right and people are tired of being home and getting takeout. Food is not the same when you get it to go,” said Leon.
He said even with outdoor seating open, it was often too cold to eat on the patio.
“We have 11 heaters outside, but still people didn’t want to sit outside,” said Leon.
With his dining room back open, Leon said it’s going to help his business and his staff.
“I think at least all our employees are going to be back to work and maybe make it. Pay our rent, pay our bills, because everybody is behind on bills right now,” said Leon.
Leon said he doesn’t think his restaurant and other local businesses can handle another change in mitigations that would potentially close their businesses.
“We’ve been going through this on and off for a whole year and I think if they do this one more time, we might be done. A lot of the restaurants in town are going to be done. It’s going to be too hard if they do it again,” said Leon.
To avoid moving back into Tier 2 Mitigations, the seven-day test positivity rate must stay below 8%.