Twin Cities leaders are trying to figure out how outdoor seating will work

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BLOOMINGTON-NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — Dinning at your favorite restaurant, grabbing a drink at a bar or shopping for some new clothes are all things central Illinoisans will be able to do starting Friday.

Governor J.B. Pritzker said, restaurants, bars, retail stores, and salons can open on May 29th, as it marks the first day of Phase 3.

“It’s been a tough three months sitting in the house,” said Sean Kriter. “I’m excited to go get a haircut and go get some food.”

At a time when In-person conversations have been restricted to zoom or facetime, Guy Gudeman of Normal says this next phase is important because it allows community members to get back to face-to-face interaction.

“If you’re cooped in the house for so long, it probably gets pretty boring,” said Gudeman. “It’s nice to have a little social interaction.”

But he says there are things he’s learned in recent weeks that he’ll take with him into the future.

“I think facemasks are going to become a bigger thing for me personally,” said Gudeman. “It’s taught me, that when you’re leaving your house you need to sanitate, when you come back you need to sanitate, because you don’t want to take things that you have and give it to someone else. You don’t want take what someone else has and give it to yourself and your family.”

Makenna Lockhart says before the pandemic, she was always on the go, now, she’s learned to appreciate each moment.

“I am eating outside more, and I have taken more walks,” she said. “I am not glad this has happened but it’s opened my eyes.”

Twin city mayors say outdoor seating will look different in Bloomington-Normal. For restaurants in the city, it can be tough, as some are located in strip malls or have little to no sidewalk space.

Mayor Renner says on Tuesday the council will vote on whether to close streets and allow businesses to use the closed street as a dinning area.

Town leaders in Normal say their business owners have the same concerns. City Manager Pam Reece says, it would be against town codes to allow restaurants in uptown normal to use their sidewalks.

She says by Tuesday staff should have a plan to temporarily amend codes and rules to give businesses options. Those options will be voted on and finalized before Friday.

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