McNamara: Rockford is trying to make it easier for businesses to reopen Friday under ‘new normal’

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara said the City would be waiving outdoor seating permits in order for bars and restaurants to reopen Friday, but said an application for such still needed to be submitted.

McNamara said temporary seating will be allowed in parking lots, sidewalks and alleys, but businesses need to submit a plan to business@rockfordil.gov first.

McNamara also said businesses can also use that address to inquire about micro-enterprise loans for a business with between 1-5 employees.

“Now is not the time to slow down on social distancing,” McNamara said. “We must double down on these efforts as a community.”

He also advised residents to shop locally when buying products and goods, to support the local economy.

Winnebago County Health Department Director Dr. Sandra Martell said the City of Rockford has been working on three separate guidelines for reopening the local economy, independent of guidance handed down from the capitol.

Martell said working groups of local business and civic leaders are working toward guidelines for reopening churches, childcare and summer programs, and restaurants and bars.

Even with Illinois scheduled to move into Phase 3 of Gov. JB Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan on Friday, May 29th, Martell emphasized that the COVID-19 virus is still out there, and anyone who is suffering from symptoms of the novel coronavirus should stay home to minimize the exposure of others to the virus.

Winnebago County Board Chairman Frank Haney said wearing a face mask in public should be a public health necessity, not a political statement.

Martell said local employers will be partnering with the health department to check on employees returning to work and possibly require temperature checks.

Restaurant menus may be on electronic whiteboards or chalkboards going forward, to prevent the transmission of the virus on shared objects and utensils.

Martell said many considerations will have to be made post-shutdown, saying everything has to be intentional and said residents will have to get used to a lot of daily changes, from assigning toys to children to getting more digital savy and using fewer paper documents.

The Winnebago County Health Department announced 47 new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 1,961 in the county. Martell said of all the tests performed, 11.5 percent have come back positive, which is below the daily maximum set for moving into Illinois’ Phase 3, which is 20 percent.

No new deaths were reported Tuesday.

New facilities are now reporting cases of coronavirus, including Alpine Fireside Health Center, Wesley Willows, Mosaic Group Home, PA Peterson, and Presence Cor Mariae Center.

Alden Alma Nelson Manor, Amberwood Care Centre, Anam Care, The Atrium, Crimson Pointe, Forest City Rehab and Nursing, Fairhaven Christian Retirment Center, Forest City Rehab and Nursing, Goldie B Floberg Center, Highview in the Woodlands, Lincolnshire Place, Luther Center, Milestone, River Bluff Nursing Home, Robert Webb Terrace, Rock River Health Care, Rockford Rescue Mission, Rosecrance Griffin Williamson Campus, St. Anne Ascension Living, Stepping Stones of Rockford, Van Matre, Winnebgo County Jail and Winnebago County Juvenile Detention Center have all reported cases.

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