Rockford restaurant owners prepare for layoffs as more COVID-19 restrictions take effect

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Illinois’ top health expert says recent evidence from contact tracing shows that bars and restaurants are hotspots for the spread of COVID-19.

The findings will force Stateline bar and restaurant owners to limit service this upcoming weekend. We spoke with some owners who say less seating means fewer jobs.

“We went through over 100 days shutdown it was devastating. I had to lay off my entire staff and here we are again,” said Scott Frank, the owner of Ciao Bella Italian Kitchen.

Rockford restaurant and bar owners are once again forced to drive customers out the door due to a spike in COVID-19 cases.

“I understand Governor Pritzker and Dr. Ezieke want to blame us, the restaurant and bar industry for the uptick in our region’s numbers, but let me give you some facts first…we opened up on June 26th indoor, July and August, no issues. Near the end of August our positivity rate was 3.7,” said Frank.

Restaurant owners like Scott Frank say that forcing one specific industry to shut down won’t help.

“I don’t want kids to not be in school as a parent. But if we’re going to be shut down until we get back below the 6.5% rate this is going to take forever unless schools get closed,” Frank added.

Cathy Dzik, the owner of Dusty Boots and 8th Ward Pub is preparing for Saturday.

“We all want to operate a business and make a profit and have our employees make a good livelihood with all of this going on it’s nearly impossible to do that,” Dzik explained.

The restriction also mean major job losses.

“For the small portion that their health department says we’re responsible for, someone did the math…and it says we’ll have to lose 30,000 jobs in the Rockford area,” said another restaurant and bar owner Jay Gesner.

“When you sit down and tell these people that, it’s gut-wrenching to tell them they have no job anymore,” Gesner added.

According to the state’s Infectious Disease and Public Health Acts, if owners choose not to close they could face a felony.

“Once you have a felony you cannot have a liquor license or a gaming license so here is the hard decision. We all want to stay open, we need to feed our families, we need to have a place for our staff to come back to. If you get a felony it’s game over,” Frank added.

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