With coronavirus numbers on track to allow for the next phase of Illinois’ reopening plan to take effect, some suburbs are urging Gov. J.B. Pritzker to reopen portions of the economy more quickly.
“It’s really mind-blowing to me that everyday that we have to look at empty tables and let people wait,” Gigi Rovito, owner of Capri Ristorante, said.
Rovito’s Burr Ridge eatery is losing money, even with outdoor dining that was allowed under new guidelines issued by the state for Phase Three of the “Restore Illinois” plan.
“People are waiting to come in. I only have 22 tables to work with and I’ve got 40 tables empty,” she said.
Rovito is one of many business owners who are joined by Burr Ridge Mayor Gary Grasso in calling on Pritzker to allow restaurants to have dine-in service beginning over Father’s Day weekend.
“I reached out to the governor and sent him a letter today asking him to compromise,” Grasso said. “The metrics certainly don’t suggest waiting a week.”
Under the provisions of the state’s reopening plan, hospitalizations for coronavirus-related illnesses cannot increase for a period of 28 days, but many, including Grasso and other area mayors, believe that the timeframe should just be 14 days instead.
“It’s just not enough for these restaurants,” Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau said of outdoor dining and carryout service. “They need more than just 25 percent of their normal seating. They’re all hurting.”
Republican lawmakers are also joining the quest to allow for more eating options at restaurants, along with other sectors of the economy.
“We’re very concerned about the economy in Illinois,” State Sen. Jim Oberweis said. “We just passed a budget with a $2 billion increase in spending, even in the face of a $4 billion decrease in revenue.”
The governor says he’s pleased with numbers that suggest the state has successfully flattened the curve in new cases, with the state’s positivity rate steadily declining, but that he is following the advice of health experts in keeping restrictions in place.
“I want our economy to move faster as well, (but) the data doesn’t tell us that now is the time,” he said.