PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Restaurants and bars are back open, but it does not mean the indoor experience will be the same.
While the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is allowing indoor dining again, bars and restaurant owners have to follow the mitigation requirements to continue that norm.
To help keep the 7-day positivity rate below 8% to avoid moving back to Tier 2, the IDPH released a set of rules.
Establishments cannot have people dining in for more than two hours, indoor services are limited to 25% capacity per room, and all parties must make a reservation to be seated.
Aaron Smith, the owner of Double A’s Pizza Sports Bar and Grill, said indoor seating is off to a steady start.
“The crowd was really good yesterday. We had a nice buffet during the day time, and it continued on until the night. It was awesome,” Smith said.
However, Emily Cotton, an owner of Cyd’s in the Park, said she understands everyone may not be in a hurry to grab a table.
“People are going to want to get back into restaurants and hunker down and enjoy themselves, but the best thing our favorite customers can do is be present … (by) showing up to eat inside or carry out, along with (having a) great understanding and (knowing) we are doing the best we can,” she said.
Yet, the new mitigations have not affected the owner’s enthusiasm to serve customers again.
“We are just so excited to be able to serve them when their teeth aren’t chattering because they are trying to eat outside in the middle of a Midwest winter day,” said Cotton.
As Cyd’s is set to reopen Thursday, Cotton wants to remind people that businesses had to open at a day’s notice after being closed or partially closed for nearly three months.
Those who are venturing out should not be surprised if a restaurant or bar has a limited food or alcohol menu, she warns.