Some southern Ill. restaurants hope for more dine-in customers following lift of indoor mask mandate

Some restaurants in southern Illinois are reacting to news of mask mandates coming to an end.
Published: Feb. 10, 2022 at 5:29 PM CST
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CARTERVILLE, Ill. (KFVS) - Some restaurants in southern Illinois are embracing the news that indoor mask mandates are coming to an end.

Governor JB Pritzker announced that the indoor mask mandate will come to an end on Wednesday, February 28.

“We are so happy to see the numbers declining and I hope that that encourages more and more people to come out and dine and to frequent their local restaurants and local family owned businesses,” said 17th Street BBQ owner Amy Mills.

Mills is encouraged by the governor’s announcement to lift the mask mandate in Illinois.

“With so many people contracting the omicron variant, the bad weather and just the slowness of January overall, it was a pretty dismal month, so we’re really looking forward to brighter days,” she said.

Mackie’s Pizza in Marion is also looking forward to a boost in business when the mandate ends.

General Manager John McPeek said more and more group outings are being booked.

“I’ve had a lot more groups coming back. Especially people that want to play cards or have birthday parties, actually have a couple wedding rehearsal dinners coming up and people are using, not afraid to come out anymore and I think they’re ready to get back to normal,” said McPeek.

McPeek, who is also the Mayor of Harrisburg, believes lifting the mask mandate will bring in more diners.

“Yesterday, I had a couple tell me yesterday they’re looking forward to not having to wear a mask to come into our restaurant anymore,” said McPeek.

McPeek believes more people will also return to working in the food industry.

“Definitely think you’ll see more people coming back to work so they don’t have to wear the mask all the time and they just feel more comfortable working without the mask on,” he said.

And for Mills, she said the future is promising.

“We worked so hard at 17th Street to keep our staff and our guests safe, and of course we will continue to operate in that vein. But the lifting of the mask mandate just feels more hopeful for our state and our country. Everyone is ready to get really back to business and get back to living,” she said.

The changes will impact restaurants, bars and places of business, but not schools. They’re governed by a separate mandate and that issue is being addressed separately.

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