Champaign enters recovery phase, amends ordinance

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Photo Courtesy of Champaign County

“The Pledge” featured on the Champaign County Safe website gives tips on how to lessen the spread of coronavirus.

By Amrita Bhattacharyya, Staff Writer

The City of Champaign is adjusting to the newest phase of the Restore Illinois plan, making adjustments as needed and providing the public with resources.

Illinois entered Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan on May 29. In this phase, the “rate of infection among those surveillance tested is stable or declining,” according to the State of Illinois website. 

Champaign Mayor Deborah Feinen met with stakeholders on June 2 to discuss revisions to the ordinance. Businesses were given the opportunity to make comments. 

“There really wasn’t a big groundswell of change that needed to be made just yet,” said T.J. Blakeman, senior planner for economic development for the City of Champaign. 

Although the original curfew for all restaurants was 10 p.m., businesses that already have an existing private patio are now allowed to stay open for their regular hours, according to Blakeman.

Revising the ordinance in order to allow live music was not discussed during the meeting. 

“I think the businesses are making the best with the situation they have, and we didn’t hear anything on the call that made us seriously re-question or amend the whole program,” Blakeman said. 

Blakeman said the current protests did not affect the amendments in any way. However, in the meeting, businesses were encouraged to make sure their patio furniture was inside and secure after closing. 

To make the re-opening phase easier, Carly McCrory, director of the Champaign County Economic Development Organization, has been working with a small team to compile helpful resources on a website. 

Champaigncountysafe.org launched on May 23 and is dedicated to informing the public on the best safety practices and resources for businesses. This includes PPE suppliers, cleaning companies and local printers to assist with signage. 

The website also has a Champaign County Safe Pledge, which businesses can take online “as a way for them to assure their customers and their employees that they are taking the safety measures necessary,” McCrory said. 

Businesses that take the pledge will be added to a “Pledged Businesses” list on the website. 

“That was something that the University especially really wanted as they make the plans for the fall instruction for students and faculty that are returning back to campus,” McCrory said.

According to the State of Illinois website, the decision to move from Phase 3 to Phase 4 will ultimately depend on the COVID-19 positivity rate in each region, as well as measures of maintaining hospital surge capacity. 

“Everything on our website is constantly being updated and changed because ultimately the main focus and guidelines is the Restore Illinois plan and the guidelines we receive from the city,” McCrory said. 

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