Restaurants welcome back employees with return of indoor dining in Rockford region

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Region 1 sees relaxed COVID-19 mitigations after meeting the requirements to move to Tier 1 of the ‘Restore Illinois’ plan.

One of the metrics our region had to hit was a test positivity rate under 8% for three straight days.

Monday’s news means the months-long ban on indoor dining has been lifted. We break down what that means for local restaurant and bar owners.

“Look at the numbers and you knew it was coming soon. So we kind of anticipated hearing today that it would be real,” said Carlyle Brewing Co. general manager Randy Blank.

Stateline restaurants can now welcome customers back inside their dining rooms after Region 1 moves into the less restrictive Tier 1 of COVID-19 mitigations.

“We’re ready to go. We’ve been following the protocols, we’ve been doing the deep cleanings. We’ve been ready,” said Paul Sletten, the owner of Abreo.

Businesses had been limited to outdoor dining, curbside pickup, and carry-out orders since October. Even now under the new guidelines, indoor capacity is limited to 25% or 25 people per room.

“It’s still going to be thinned out in here, but in addition to the to-go and things we’re doing, it’s just going to be really great to get closer to running a restaurant that’s full of hospitality and conversation and good times,” Sletten described.

Some restaurants have a little bit of work to do before re-opening their dining rooms.

“[We are] just getting our staff back in, our kitchen back in order, stuff prepped. Getting cleaned up after three months of not having people inside, getting the dust off everything,” Blank explained.

Carlye Brewing Company staff will almost double in size over the next few days as the restaurant prepares to re-open on Thursday. Blank says that some employees who hadn’t had a spot the last few months are finally able to come back to work.

“Our staff is all excited to come back, we’re all excited. I’m sure our customers are, the ones I’ve gotten texts from today seem to be. So I think everybody’s pretty excited,” Blank added.

Customers will still need to make reservations before dining indoors. Customers will also be expected to wear masks when they are not eating.

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