October 24, 2020

Illinois dine-in restaurants, bars close Monday night amid COVID-19 pandemic

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CHICAGO — In an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, all Illinois bars and restaurants are closing their dining rooms to customers.

The state mandate begins at the end of business Monday night and runs through March 30.

Restaurant food deliveries, pick-up and drive-through services will still be available.

Gov. JB Pritzker decided to enact these measures after seeing the throngs of people who packed into restaurants and bars to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this weekend, despite public officials pleading with residents to stay inside.

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The hope was that if people stayed indoors, it would greatly reduce the spread of the virus.

Based on what health experts have seen of COVID-19, young, healthy people can bounce back from this virus; however, it’s the high- risk population that’s of concern.

If younger people pass this virus on to individuals over 60, or those with health issues, the risk of complication and even death goes up exponentially.

“This is not a joke. No one is immune to this and you have an obligation to act in the best interest of all this state,” Pritzker said.

“We’ll do whatever we need to do to comply with the city. We just want to have a speedy recovery, and get back to reality, back to business,” said Aeri Strauss, Sluggers sports bar.

This undoubtedly is going to be a major hardship for those in the restaurant industry.

Some restaurant owners are paying staff out of pocket. Phil Castello, owner of Side Lot Brewery in Wauconda, said they’ll find alternative projects for staff to keep them busy.

“We rely on them, it’s our core,” said Castello. “It’s unfair to say we don’t know when we’re getting sales, so we don’t know when you’re getting paid.”

Restaurant chefs and owners are now undertaking a social media campaign appealing to the governor for help.

They’re asking for unemployment wages for this period, that payroll taxes be eliminated and there be an abatement on rent and loans.

“We looked around that room yesterday and realized some of those operators,” said restaurant owner Brian Jupiter. “Some of those chefs won’t be open after this and that’s the reality.”

Other major cities like New York and Los Angeles have also put similar mandates into play,  in the name of public safety.

To find what restaurants different options local restaurants are offering, visit https://www.diningatadistance.com/chi.

Owner of Page’s in Hinsdale shares story

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“If you’re bummed out on a day, this is where you come to get cheered up,” said owner Cissy Rallo.

With the spread of COVID-19, Rallo is concerned not only her family, but her customers and employees.

“I’m going to make sure we are all okay and we will get through this, Rallo said. “That reality of the one paycheck away from going out of business or losing something, boy that has really come to light for me… and that’s why I’m scared.”

As Rallo was closing Monday, a group of Hinsdale teens came in to buy gift cards to show support.