Hundreds of restaurants and retailers are preparing to reopen in Phase Three of the “Restore Illinois” plan, and owners across the regiona re eager to get back to work.
“I almost have the butterflies from when I first opened,” Nancy Resing, the owner of Hazyl Boutique in suburban Elmhurst, said.
Resing, like many owners, is dealing with the new realities imposed on businesses by the coronavirus, and with the strict guidelines handed down by Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration and the Illinois Department of Public Health.
She will only allow five customers into her shop at a time, and she’s added arrows to her store floor to help prevent physical contact and to encourage social distancing.
“You’ve gotta have the masks on, and me and the gals will have them on as well,” she said. “When you walk in we will also have a hand-sanitizer station.”
In suburban Aurora, city leaders have crafted their own set of guidelines, giving equal opportunity to bars and restaurants who may not have an outdoor area suitable for seating under the auspices of the “Restore Illinois” plan.
Under that plan, restaurants and bars can reopen their outdoor seating area, with at least six feet between tables and servers and bartenders wearing masks.
“We are supportive of businesses looking for nontraditional spaces to create outdoor patios if they don’t have them already,” Trevor Dick, director of development for the city of Aurora, said.
The city is allowing restaurants to close off 25 percent of their parking lots in order to gain more space for outdoor seating.
“We’re looking for protective ways for people to sit out there, to give it a European feel,” Dick said. “Very walkable, and a great way to bring some activity to the downtown area especially.”
Suburban Burr Ridge is using its own unique strategies to help business owners, footing the bills to give restaurants tented areas and outdoor space so that they can serve more customers.
“We need to make sure our restaurants survive,” Mayor Gary Grasso said.
Phase Three of the state’s reopening plan is expected to begin later this week. Under the terms of the plan, restaurants and bars can open outdoor seating areas, while all non-essential retailers will be allowed to open their doors with social distancing guidelines and capacity limits in place.
Personal care services, including hair salons and tattoo shops, will also be allowed to reopen under the plan, which is being implemented as the state continues to make progress in lowering its overall positivity rate, trimming its number of COVID-related hospitalizations and lowering the number of patients requiring ventilators.