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Whiteside Co. prepares for bar, restaurant restrictions

Whiteside County will be seeing enhanced COVID-19 restrictions starting on Saturday, October 3rd. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker made the announcement on Tuesday following a rolling positivity rate beyond 8% for more than three consecutive days in Region 1 in Illinois.
Published: Sep. 30, 2020 at 7:47 PM CDT
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STERLING, Ill. (KWQC) - Whiteside County will be seeing enhanced COVID-19 restrictions starting on Saturday, October 3rd. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker made the announcement on Tuesday following a rolling positivity rate beyond 8% for more than three consecutive days in Region 1 in Illinois. The region includes Lee, Whiteside, Carroll, and Jo Daviess counties. Restrictions include the closure of indoor service for bars and restaurants.

“I didn’t want to get back to this point again but we’ll do the best that we can do,” said Tanya Strader, manager of The Factory Pub 'n' Grub.

For her, the news that more restrictions would be set in place was disappointing.

“I want to be open fully. I feel bad for other places that haven’t survived through this. We’ve done very well. We have amazing customers and an amazing clientele. We’re a family-run business so that has helped tremendously and we could not be more appreciative. So as far as us we’re not going anywhere. However, it is a setback,” Strader said.

This is also the second time they’re closing since reopening their indoor dining experience back in July when restrictions were previously lifted.

“We’ll do the best we can, again. I mean I hate that we’re getting set backward again but don’t really have a choice. There’s nothing else we can do besides continue to do the curbside, carry out [and] as much patio dining as people feel comfortable going outside,” she said.

Kris Noble, the Executive Director of the Sauk Valley Chamber of Commerce said the bar and restaurant industry is heavily impacted by these specific restrictions.

“We are going to have to do a really good job of trying to help them, whether it be applications for the big grant if they haven’t applied for the PPP funding," she said.

Noble also said getting through this will be a community effort.

“I love this community and I just want people to understand some of our businesses may not make it through this and we need to figure out how to support them. Maybe whether or not we agree with the mask up thing but if it’s showing that that works, then maybe that’s what we need to do,” Noble said.

There are still ways the community can support the local economy.

“We’re a smaller community and ‚you know, Sterling, Rock Falls area, and I think we believe in helping each other and so simple measures of ordering curbside if that’s what you need to do,” Noble said.

“Order carryout, curbside. We’re open for a couple more days. So, come out support us, see us before we have to shut down again,” Strader said.

As they look ahead, Noble said there’s no one size fits all solution, but they’re going to try to figure something out soon.

“Fighting for the small mom and pop shop may not seem like a priority but for us it is, but there’s lots of obstacles,” she said, “We have great relationships with our municipalities, with our local hospital. So we are going to have to figure this out sooner, you know there’s no precedent, and do what is in the best interest or what’s going to help our community survive. If somebody has that answer. That would be great, but again, I work with chamber directors all around the state. and there’s not a one size fits all answer. I do believe following the protocol that mask up, wash up, and stay six feet apart has been shown to work. So when you asked about what can we do, those three little steps, whether or not you agree with it, I get it, I get it, but maybe that’s where we start.”

Health officials said the region will have to see an average positivity rate of 6.5% or less for three consecutive days in order to move back to phase 4. IDPH said they’ll track the positivity rate in the region to determine if restrictions need to be increased, can be relaxed, or remain the same.

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