Local businesses grateful to move back to Tier 2 Mitigation

Local News

CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WMBD) — On Friday, Region 2 in Central Illinois moved back to Tier 2 Mitigation and some local businesses didn’t waste any time re-opening their doors.

Many of the area’s businesses that are finally allowed to operate had been closed for nearly two months. Amanda Fell, general manager of Morton Cinema said Friday is a day that’s been popping around in her head since mid-November.

“I’m so excited for tonight,” Fell said. “I just know it’s going to be a big night. I know the community is ready to come see new movies.”

Fell said there hasn’t been much relief for small movie theaters during the pandemic, saying they don’t qualify for many of the small business grants and loans that are geared toward other small businesses.

She said she’s still been able to sell the snacks at the theater’s concession stand, but community members haven’t been able to watch a movie on the big screen since the region went under Tier 3 COVID-19 restrictions in November. Fell said it was a huge blow for business.

“It was really tough to be closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day because those are two very big days for us,” Fell said.

Under Tier 2 Mitigation, gatherings are limited to 10 people for indoor and outdoor settings. Venues such as movie theaters and casinos are able to operate at 25% capacity, and indoor dining is still prohibited.

Fell said she’s hoping to bounce back.

“I’m hoping we’ll have sold-out shows,” Fell said.

Managers of East Peoria’s Par-A-Dice Hotel & Casino said they were also anticipating a lucky weekend after a long wait as they prepared to re-open for the community on Saturday.

“I am so excited and so is our team it feels like an eternity,” Cori Rutherford, Vice President and General Manager of the Par-A-Dice Hotel & Casino, said. “We have more machines active a lot of new fun stuff so I think everyone’s going to enjoy what they see once they hit the floors.”

Rutherford said although they’ve been closed for almost two months, they’ve still been busy. She said they’ll operate until 11 p.m, machines are more spaced apart and sanitizing, safety, and social distancing are second nature for the casino.

“When you get to the casino we will be asking you certain health questions and making sure that you’re healthy and mask usage is mandatory,” Rutherford said. “

Under Illinois’ guidelines, Region 2 was able to enter Tier 2 Mitigation by having a test positivity rate less than 12% for three consecutive days and having more than 20% of ICU and hospital beds available.

In order to move into Tier 1 Mitigation, the state needs a test positivity rate below 8% for three consecutive days, and greater than or equal to 20% available staffed ICU and medical/surgical hospital beds for three consecutive days.

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