The Quad Cities Chamber is calling on Q-C and State of Illinois elected officials to support allowing bars and restaurants to serve customers indoors in a safe and responsible manner.

The State of Illinois has placed additional restrictions on businesses starting Wednesday because of increased Covid-19 positivity rates across the state and region. While most businesses can continue to operate without further adjustments, bars and restaurants are being targeted

Quad-Cities Chamber Seeks Reversal of New Illinois Covid Restrictions

The Quad Cities Chamber is leading a push to reverse new Illinois restrictions on bars and restaurants.

with additional restrictions despite adapting their practices based on Covid-19 guidelines, according to quadcitieschamber.com.

“As colder weather approaches, outdoor dining will soon become impractical or impossible for most establishments; and without flexible mitigation efforts that allow for indoor service, some businesses could be forced to close,” the chamber says. “We do not want our vibrant restaurant community wiped out because the restrictions went too far.”

“The Chamber has advocated for a safe and responsible approach to combat Covid-19,” said Q-C Chamber president/CEO Paul Rumler. “It’s not right to target one industry to bear the brunt of Covid-19. Restaurants can operate safely while serving in-person customers and should be allowed to do so while we all take responsibility to wear masks, wash our hands and follow social distance protocols. We ask officials to reverse these restrictions.”

On Tuesday, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported 6,516 new confirmed cases of Covid in Illinois, including 68 additional deaths.

IDPH reported a total of 430,018 cases, including 9,878 deaths, in 102 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years. As of Monday night, 3,594 people in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with Covid-19. Of those, 755 patients

Quad-Cities Chamber Seeks Reversal of New Illinois Covid Restrictions

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker.

were in the ICU and 326 patients with Covid were on ventilators.

The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from Oct. 27 – Nov. 2 was 8.2%. As of Tuesday, there were a total of 4,757 positive cases in Rock Island County and 104 Covid-related deaths.

The Chamber has sent (and is asking others to send) letters to Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and other elected officials, seeking reversal of the restrictions.

“Over the past year, restaurants and bars have implemented new and enhanced policies and procedures to protect the safety and health of employees and patrons alike,” the letter says. “Restaurants and bars have invested significant time and money towards sanitation, PPE, social distancing, timed reservation blocks, face coverings, hand sanitizer stations, signage, and more. Despite all of this, restaurants continue to bear the brunt of Covid-19 restriction without the financial support needed to survive continued closures.

“These latest mitigation efforts single out one industry that will spell devastation and permanent closure for many local bars and restaurants,” the letter says. “Restaurants and bars can operate safely while serving customers indoors and should be allowed to do so while following Covid-19 health guidance.”

Visit Quad Cities President and CEO Dave Herrell also spoke out in favor of treating the bi-state area as a unified region, claiming this unfairly targets Illinois businesses.

Quad-Cities Chamber Seeks Reversal of New Illinois Covid Restrictions

Paul Rumler is president/CEO of the Quad Cities Chamber.

“The public safety and health of all Quad Citizens and visitors will always remain our leading priority as well as strongly advocating for our regional economy. Unfortunately, the most recent mitigation measures going into effect by the State of Illinois to eliminate indoor service puts our Illinois Quad-Cities restaurants and bars in an extremely challenging position,” he said.

“We fully understand that stricter protocols need to be implemented but if these mostly small businesses don’t have any indoor options with some limited capacity, this will dramatically impact their ability to stay in business much longer,” Herrell said.

“Visit Quad Cities continues to support our area businesses and we welcome further discussion with Governor Pritzker’s Administration on possible alternatives that would allow those businesses that are following safe and responsible protocols to not be penalized by mitigation efforts,” he said. “Small business owners are working extremely hard to keep their employees and customers safe during this challenging time. And, Visit Quad Cities will continue to advocate for them because they are critically important to our regional destination’s economy.”

Quad-Cities Chamber Seeks Reversal of New Illinois Covid Restrictions

Dave Herrell is president/CEO of Visit Quad Cities.

Beginning Wednesday, mitigations taking effect in Region 2 (a 20-county area including Rock Island County) include:

Bars

  • No indoor service
  • All outside bar service closes at 11 p.m.
  • All bar patrons should be seated at tables outside
  • No ordering, seating or congregating at bar (bar stools should be removed)
  • Tables should be 6 feet apart
  • No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting
  • No dancing or standing indoors
  • Reservations required for each party
  • No seating of multiple parties at one table

Restaurants

  • No indoor dining or bar service
  • All outdoor dining closes at 11 p.m.
  • Outside dining tables should be 6 feet apart
  • No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting
  • Reservations required for each party
  • No seating of multiple parties at one table

Meetings, Social Events, Gatherings

  • Limit to lesser of 25 guests or 25 percent of overall room capacity
  • No party buses
  • Gaming and Casinos close at 11 p.m., are limited to 25 percent capacity and follow mitigations for bars and restaurants, if applicable

These mitigations do not apply to schools.

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In Iowa, bars and restaurants must ensure at least six feet of physical distance between each group or individual dining alone. Seating at

Quad-Cities Chamber Seeks Reversal of New Illinois Covid Restrictions

The Chamber has a new program encouraging local consumers to “Keep It QC.”

booths closer than six feet may satisfy this requirement if the booths are separated by a barrier of a sufficient height to fully separate seated customers.

All patrons must have a seat at a table, booth, or bar, and must consume their food or beverage while seated at the table, booth, or bar. Establishments must limit patrons from congregating together closer than six feet.

Covid case counts overall have been rising higher in Iowa statewide compared to Illinois. Over the past week, there has been an average of 2,214 cases per day, an increase of 102 percent from the average two weeks earlier. In Illinois, there has been an average of 6,600 cases per day, an increase of 73 percent from the average two weeks earlier.

Moline’s Black Box Theatre has postponed all shows due to the new regulations, including the planned production of “La Divina” this weekend.

“In accordance with the Governor’s new regulations we are postponing the coming shows. Thank you for your attendance and patience as we strive to keep you safe and our theatre vibrant,” the Black Box posted on Facebook Tuesday. “We hope to be back to putting on live performances soon!”

The chamber has outlined steps that Illinois-based businesses can take in the meantime:

  • Seek financial assistance if your business continues to be impacted by state restrictions.

Chamber staff confirmed with the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO) that money is still available through

Quad-Cities Chamber Seeks Reversal of New Illinois Covid Restrictions

This weekend’s production of “La Divina” by Shelley Cooper has been postponed.

the state’s Business Interruption Grants (BIG) program. Funding may be used to help businesses with working capital expenses, including payroll costs; rent; utilities; and other operational costs. Businesses that have not received funding in Round 2 of BIG are strongly encouraged to apply today. There are application resources available in English and Spanish on the DCEO website.

  • Contact your elected officials. 

Add your name to a letter in the Chamber’s Advocacy Action Center, asking Gov. Pritzker, state lawmakers and local officials to reconsider current mitigation efforts and allow businesses to remain open for indoor service.

  • Support your local establishments – Keep It QC

Now more than ever, it is important to Keep It QC. The chamber urges support for businesses that are being impacted by these new rules. We do not want our vibrant restaurant community wiped out because the restrictions went too far. Be sure to order carryout, dine outdoors and buy gift cards to help our businesses remain viable.

For assistance related to financial resources, contact Jenelle Wolber at jwolber@quadcitieschamber.com. For help finding other resources, contact Deb Mueller at dmueller@quadcitieschamber.com.

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Quad-Cities Chamber Seeks Reversal of New Illinois Covid Restrictions
Jonathan Turner has been covering the Quad-Cities arts scene for 25 years, first as a reporter with the Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, and then as a reporter with the Quad City Times. Jonathan is also an accomplished actor and musician who has been seen frequently on local theater stages, including the Bucktown Revue and Black Box Theatre.