Confusion among bar owners, local leaders as state prepares for Tier 2 mitigations

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — Regions across Illinois are preparing to walk back covid-19 restrictions as early as this Friday.

Under Tier 2, casinos will be allowed to reopen with limited capacity but other businesses with gambling are confused as to whether they can open too.

Illinois mayors including Bloomington’s Tari Renner asking the state for clarity when it comes to what is and isn’t allowed as Illinois prepares to move most regions out of tier three and into tier two COVID-19 mitigations.

Under Tier 2, casinos, entertainment venues, and museums can re-open with capacity limits. However, indoor dining is still not allowed this confusing to businesses like Crawford’s Corner Pub that have gaming machines as well as serve food and alcohol.

Owner Bob Crawford said it’s confusing now and was confusing back in November too.

“Why can a person come into my establishment, in-and-out in-and-out,” Crawford said. “I have five machines, five people at a time, but yet I can’t serve them a Diet Coke, Bud Lite, or a cheeseburger.”

Bloomington’s Mayor Tari Renner said he has received little to no guidance from the state on clarification.

“It’s very messy, I think there’s quite a bit of confusion at this point,” Renner said.

Renner said the way mitigations are defined right now by the Illinois Department of Public Health is “unfair” to different types of establishments.

“If they don’t have liquor licenses, the city really has no tools of enforcement. If they do, then we can move in and we are obligated to,” Renner said.

Renner said he and other mayors in central Illinois lobbying with the state to allow indoor dining at 25% capacity.

“Most of our businesses have been playing by the rules, they’ve been doing the right things and the goal post keeps being moved,” Renner said.

Crawford said his pub has been cited twice for serving people indoors during the indoor dining ban, costing him $800.

“I really wish we could let adults make adult decisions,” Crawford said.

Crawford said he isn’t downplaying the virus but also says he and employees have bills that need to be paid.

“I still have a mortgage that’s due every month,” Crawford said. “You take butts out of chairs in my establishment and I’m not able to make those payments.”

Crawford said it’ll be nice to have the gaming income back, but wants to serve people a burger and beer without worrying about the Bloomington Police.

Mayor Renner said he’s looked at metrics and said indoor dining with masks and social distancing won’t affect the positivity rates.

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