Michigan State, Notre Dame and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill have recently suspended in-person classes due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. New emergency orders affecting bars and restaurants in Champaign-Urbana are meant to prevent that from happening at the University of Illinois.
The mayors of both Champaign and Urbana have issued orders requiring bar and restaurant patrons to stay seated most of the time, except for activities such as ordering food and drinks, using the restrooms, and playing games such as darts. (Read the Champaign order here.)
In Champaign only, Mayor Deb Feinen has issued another order, limiting customer seating at Campustown restaurants and bars to outdoors areas only, from now through Labor Day.
Emergency orders from the two mayors also set crowd limits and require face masks and social distancing at private parties on and near the U of I campus. The orders cover adjoining campus areas in Champaign-Urbana, bordered by University Avenue on the north, the Canadian National tracks on the west, Urbana’s Race Street on the east, and extending south to Florida Avenue in Urbana and Windsor Road in Champaign. Gatherings in this area will be limited to the host and household members plus ten guests. Violators could be prosecuted under Champaign and Urbana’s city codes.
The two mayors explained the orders during a news conference on Wednesday. Feinen said while some U of I students might go elsewhere to dine and drink, the indoor seating ban is being limited to Campustown, in an attempt to balance public health with the needs of local businesses.
“We’re trying to do the least amount of economic damage to people who are really struggling to keep their businesses going during this, while still recognizing that we have to be as safe as possible, with respect to COVID,” said Feinen.
Champaign and Urbana authorities will also be enforcing the Pritzker administration’s order for face masks to be worn in all public places, unless people are actually dining or drinking. The order received the backing of the Illinois General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules last week.
At the news conference, administrator Julie Pryde with the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District said the order gives local authorities the legal backing to take action against people who refuse requests to put on a face mask.
“It will require basically a three-step process: written notice of on-compliance, order to disperse, and then it can be fines up to $2,500,” said Pryde.
The new restrictions are an effort to head off a potential spike in COVID-19 cases that University of Illinois modeling data says could happen as students return to campus.
(This story was revised to add details on restrictions at private parties. – JM 8/20/20 1:30 p.m.)