The Illinois Restaurant Association has called for Gov. J.B. Pritzker to speed up the timeline for opening the state's restaurants and bars, saying the delay imposed by Pritzker's reopening plan is "excessive even by the most conservative national guidelines."
All restaurants and bars in Illinois have been closed for dine-in service since March 16.
Restaurants and bars will still be required to remain closed to dine-in customers through phase three of the governor's five-stage reopening plan, Restore Illinois. Only in phase four can restaurants and bars reopen with capacity limits and safety guidelines in place as approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
In a news release Friday night, Illinois Restaurant Association President and CEO Sam Toia said the 28-day monitoring periods laid out in the Restore Illinois plan are double the 14-day national standard recommended by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
"The state is unilaterally implementing what amounts to a 56-day monitoring period on the restaurant industry," Toia said. "This puts its largest private sector employer at risk. Restaurants will not last much longer without direct, targeted relief and practical regulations at all levels of government."
Toia added that 55% of restaurants operators have temporarily closed their businesses, and sales are down approximately 80% across the board. Additionally, 321,000 of the restaurant industry's 594,000 employees had been laid off or furloughed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
"Restaurants are the cornerstones of every county in Illinois, from Sangamon to Cook to Champaign to Rock Island – and they all desperately need help from the State of Illinois in order to survive now and thrive in the future," he stated.
Gov. Pritzker had not replied to the restaurant association's statement as of Friday evening.