Winnebago County Health Department allows bars and restaurants to have 25 people inside

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Dr. Sandra Martell, director of the Winnebago County Health Department, announced Thursday, starting today, local bars and restaurants can allow 25 people inside.

According to the new guidance, patrons must make reservations and provide contact information to the restaurant so they can be reached in the event of an outbreak.

Martell said parties no larger than 6 are allowed, and tables must be 6 feet apart. Only families can sit together, and there will be a 90 minute indoor limit. After which, the entire dining room must be cleaned before another group can be allowed in.

Martell said the rules are in effect as of today, adding said the easing of restrictions was in response to concerns from local establishments who complained that Illinois’ enhanced restrictions for Region 1 threaten their sustainability.

Three Loves Park restaurants were issued orders of closure for failing to comply with the latest round of mitigations.

Neighbor’s Bar and Grill was one of the businesses told to close, but instead remained open.

Long-time employee Jonathan Sutherland said the restaurant is planning to follow the new guidelines.

“I’m thankful that they’re going to work with us, because I know the health department is going against Pritzker’s mitigations by allowing us to remain open, so I’m thankful that they’re going to give us an opportunity to be able to run our business and do what we can to survive,” he said.

Gov. Pritzker had ordered indoor service at bars and restaurants to close after a 7-day rolling COVID-19 positivity testing rate of 8%, but regional restaurant owners have argued that, with winter weather approaching, customers in Northern Illinois will not be able to dine outside.

The region’s positivity rate currently stands at 10.3%.

Martell said the 25-person allowance could be short lived, as Pritzker could impose tighter restrictions as soon as Saturday, October 17th, if the positivity rate is still above 8%.

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