Peoria area restaurants, hotels, event venues preparing for ‘Heart of Illinois’ reopening plan

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Traveling has taken a backseat during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Tourism and hospitality industries are looking for ways to bounce back.

Enjoy Peoria‘s CEO says every week, the tourism industry loses 20-billion dollars a week across the nation, and that hurts us here locally.

But with the ‘Heart of Illinois sub-region reopening plan,’ restaurant, hotel, and event venues are preparing to open soon and keep customers safe.

Dine-in restaurants have sat empty for months.

Many turning to take-out and curb-side pickup just to keep their business alive.

But the ‘Heart of Illinois sub-region reopening plan’ allows restaurants to open at 50 percent capacity in the next 7-10 days.

Peoria’s Senior Economic Engagement Specialist Kevin Evans says there are some changes customers want to see before they head out to eat.

“77 percent of people said we want to see more distance between tables,” Evans said.

“We want to see you cleaning the place frequently throughout the day,” he said was a common response in the survey.

Another common request, paper menus over laminated.

Most people wanted to make sure they weren’t touching menus used by someone else.

Evans adds a recent survey shows most people felt more comfortable going out with this change.

“They would prioritize that over having the dine-in experience inside of the restaurant,” Evans said.

Hotel chains are also looking at making some changes.

“When someone enters, there’s gonna be sanitation stations. In our particular case, we have catering tables that protect the front desk,” said Peoria Pere Marquette Hotel General Manager Jeff McLinden.

McLinden says Marriott hotel owners are making sure there’s a 6-foot barrier between guests and staff.

He adds new technology could soon be coming to further clean hotels.

“You’re gonna start seeing more medical items moving at a price point that you can afford in the room side in respect to cleaning. Ultraviolet cleaning wands,” McLinden said.

The question still remains if Gov. J.B. Pritzker will approve the ‘Heart of Illinois’ plan.

If he doesn’t, Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis says any establishment with state licenses could be at-risk of losing that license.

Enjoy Peoria’s CEO JD Dalfonso believes travel and tourism will be a big part of helping the economy get back up and running, but each respective industry realizes some major changes are going to have to be made for the well-being of consumers.

Enjoy Peoria’s Board Chair Director Dan Kouri says restaurants are looking at taking temperatures of each employee before they clock-in for work to ensure workers aren’t sick.

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