As Central Illinois looks forward to Bridge Phase, restaurant owner says worker shortage creates more challenges

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – On May 14th, Illinois will move to the Bridge Phase of reopening, leaving many looking forward to it but one business owner says more issues loom for their industry.

Following Phase Four guidelines, the Superintendent of Pekin Community High School says as seniors get ready to cross the stage tickets for graduation were limited to 10 per student.

“It’s a horrible situation to be in to have to or be a family that’s trying to figure out who gets to go or who doesn’t get to go,” said Dr. Danielle Owens, Pekin Community High School Superintendent.

As Illinois reaches the Bridge Phase next week, Owens says the ceremony will now no longer require tickets.

“Now that we know our capacity is 6,000, I don’t think we have to have a limit because we don’t think we’re going to have 6,000 people at our graduation,” Owens said.

After a canceled season in 2020, May 11th, the Peoria Chiefs will return to Dozer Park with 20 percent fans allowed in.

For now, capacity limits will go unchanged but the team’s general manager says he hopes to welcome more fans as the next phase permits.

“We’ll get through the first two home stands here and then as we get into June that’ll allow us to understand what all changes,” said Jason Mott, GM of Peoria Chiefs.

The owner of Jalapenos in Peoria says the chance to bring in additional customers is appreciated, but an ongoing shortage of workers may make things complicated.

“There’s not enough powerforce to open the whole restaurant anymore,” said Jose Leon, Owner of Jalapenos.

He says to make reopening successful, staff will play a big role.

“We need to get people off the couches, that seems like the main thing to do,” Leon said.

Leon says it has also been a challenge finding food ingredients during the pandemic and costs are increasing to prices that are the highest he’s ever seen.

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