MURPHYSBORO, Ill. (KFVS) - The Illinois Restaurant Association has called on Governor Pritzker to dine indoors safely, and get employees of restaurants back to work.
For 75 days straight, indoor dining has been closed.
17th Street owner Amy Mills said there are ways to safely dine indoors.
“These closures have not caused people to change their behaviors, they are still going other places and the virus continues to rage. So, why not open what we know to be safe? That’s a little frustrating,” she said.
Mills explained how they can dine indoors safely at 17th Street.
“As you can see, our tables are spaced far apart. We have plexiglass dividers between all of them, and plexiglass dividers between our booths. We worked very hard to design a safe dining experience,” she said.
Sam Toia, president of the Illinois Restaurant Association, estimated nearly 5,000 eateries will permanently close.
“This is the highest rate of hospitality job loss in the entire country, and three times as many as the next closest state,” he said.
Toia added Illinois is “one of only three states with a complete statewide shutdown of indoor dining.”
17th Street, along with others, are feeling the burden of being closed for so long.
“Financially this has decimated our business, and not just our business, but all locally owned restaurants. Our revenues are down over 80 percent. That is not sustainable for any huge period of time,” said Mills.
Mills said her restaurants have taken precautions to improve safety for customers and employees.
“We are very interested in the safety of our employees and of our patrons. So, its in all of our best interest to get these restaurants back open. So we can all get back on to the path to recovery,” said Mills.
Governor JB Pritzker announced on Jan. 15 that restaurants will be able to begin indoor dining in Tier 1 mitigations.
Currently Region 5, which is southern Illinois, is in Tier 2 mitigations.