Food recap: Campustown bars, restaurants adapt to indoor dining restrictions

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Kenyon Edmond

Patrons of The Red Lion sit at newly mandated outdoor seating on Friday. Campustown businesses are carrying out new measures to combat COVID-19 and implement new safety regulations.

By Ethan Simmons, News Editor

Looking to get some grub at your favorite Champaign-Urbana restaurant or bar? There’s a wave of new city orders and restrictions for customers and businesses to abide by. 

With the arrival of thousands of students to the University campus, Champaign and Urbana mayors rolled out several emergency orders and initiatives last week to restrict indoor dining at campus restaurants and bars and slow the spread of the virus. 

Until Labor Day, all Champaign restaurants and bars in Campustown are limited to outdoor service only. 

For all other restaurants and bars in C-U, patrons must be seated to receive and consume their orders. Additionally, people under 21 years of age can no longer enter Champaign’s bars past 9 p.m. 

Customers can still enter Campustown bars and restaurants to place orders, get takeout or use the restroom, but masks or face coverings are required.

“I realize that these changes will be inconvenient for our residents and businesses, but they are necessary to flatten the curve and prevent a large increase in COVID-19 cases in our community as the fall semester gets underway,” said Champaign Mayor Deb Feinen Tuesday. 

By Friday, outdoor cafes had been established near KAM’s, Illini Inn, Legends, Murphy’s and The Red Lion. The areas are permitted for business from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., though alcohol consumption isn’t allowed in these zones. 

Likewise, 11 parking spots were reserved last week by the City of Champaign for curbside pickup at businesses on the north side of Green Street’s 500 and 600 blocks.

It wasn’t an easy summer for the food service industry; mass shutdowns of in-person service in March began a rocky period for bars and restaurant revenue that hasn’t ended. Illinois food service jobs were down 40% by the time Phase 4 of Illinois’ reopening plan rolled around in late June. 

In C-U, the reopening of bars led to a spike in coronavirus cases countywide in late July. After a week of 20 to 30 new cases per day, Champaign saw 55 new cases in a single day on July 28.

“According to the modeling data provided by University of Illinois researchers, the next several weeks will be critical to making sure the spread of the coronavirus doesn’t get out of control as students return for the start of the fall semester,” Feinen said.

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