On behalf of the over 100 Chamber630 restaurants and in conjunction will Illinois Restaurant Association, I’m reaching out to express concern about the provisions of the Restore Illinois plan that will not allow my restaurant to resume dine in service until June 26, which is the earliest date a region can reach Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan. I respectfully request that you reconsider the State’s approach to safely reopen Illinois’ restaurant industry, which is the largest private sector employer in Illinois. The current Restore Illinois plan underestimates the restaurant industry’s ability to reopen and operate safely with enhanced public health measures in place. Restaurants should be permitted to resume their dine in service with limited occupancy and enhanced public health measures during Phase 3.
Health and safety have always been the top priorities of restaurants. The industry – possibly more than any other business segment – is held to the highest of standards when it comes to health code, sanitation, food safety, certification and procedural requirements to remain open on a day-to-day basis, even under normal circumstances. Operators, chefs, managers, servers and bartenders are held to mandatory certification courses that equip them with knowledge and minute-to-minute best practices of consumer and employee wellbeing. Restaurants are already extremely health-focused and equipped to start serving customers again with clear safety procedures in place.
Please modify the Restore Illinois plan to allow restaurants and bars to resume their dine in service in some capacity during Phase 3. It is very reasonable to allow for a restaurant to resume dine in service with limited occupancy, six feet between tables, PPE for employees, and many other preventative measures. Everyone that works in the industry is highly trained in proper food handling and sanitation already and are heavily regulated and frequently inspected by public health officials on a regular basis.
Restaurants are the cornerstones of every community across Illinois. But right now, they have to find a path to keep doors open when sales are down 80% across the board. More than 321,000 of the State’s 594,500 people employed in the restaurant and hospitality industry have been laid off due to COVID-19, and it is estimated that 20% of restaurants will never reopen. For most food and beverage operations, being able to conduct business in Phase 3 versus Phase 4 will be the difference between a chance for a comeback or closing their doors for good.
We are all in this together, as every single resident of Illinois patronizes restaurants. Restaurateurs are all eager to continue supporting and serving more than 12 million Illinoisans that rely on us on a daily basis. Thank you for your consideration of my request to allow for restaurants to reopen during Phase 3.
Laura Crawford President & CEO