Outdoor dining allowed in Phase Three of Illinois' reopening process is attracting customers to eateries in suburban Orland Park, but some businesses and patrons say it is time to open indoors, while still respecting social distancing.
“We would follow all the governor’s rules inside. Our main priority is the health and safety of our customers and our staff,” said Ryan Fox of Fox’s Pizza & Irish Pub.
Mary Ellen Sarniak of Mokena said there is no reason people can be allowed in big box stores, but not in restaurants.
“After all we’ve been through, we deserve to be able to take care of ourselves and our local family businesses who need our help,” Sarniak said.
The state is expected to allow limited indoor dining in Phase Four, which is on track to be implemented in all four of the state's healthcare regions on June 26.
Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau said Gov. J. B. Pritzker has not provided data that shows why restaurant patrons cannot eat indoors now.
“Let’s open up for these businesses so they can survive,” Pekau said. “These businesses are taking a killing and if they go away, there’s not gonna be a lot of businesses coming to replace them.”
Pekau argues the state is meeting the Governor’s required metrics and should enter a new phase every 14 days.
“Every state and the federal government and every country and every expert that we’ve seen, we haven’t seen anybody say anything different, except for the governor, uses 14 days. So why are we using 28?” Pekau said.
Governor Pritzker’s team said the Restore Illinois plan was created by public health experts and is working.
“While we appreciate input from elected officials around the state, the mayor of Orland Park is not a medical expert,” said press secretary Jordan Abudayyeh. “The governor has explained this medically driven approach time and time again and is sticking to the plan that led Illinois to being the first state in the nation to hit the federal metrics to reopen.”