City of Joliet submits Restaurant Reopening plan allowing outdoor dining to Governor during COVID-19

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Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk presented a plan for reopening restaurants in the City of Joliet on Friday morning to the public while abiding by public health and safety concerns.

“We’ve met internally, we’ve drafted a document.  We believe this is a responsible first step forward.” Mayor O’Dekirk said Friday.  The plan is limited to Joliet restaurants only.

The plan was submitted late Thursday night to Governor Pritzker and is pending approval before moving forward.  Under the plan, restaurants in Joliet could reopen so long as the business has a full kitchen and liquor license.

“Anyone who has full kitchen and those liquor license holders can have, think of it as outdoor dining.  This is actually kind of based off of a California plan where they have dining.” said Martin Shanahan, chief legal counsel for the City of Joliet who put together the plan with City staff.

Under the proposed restaurant dining plan:

  • Outdoor dining only
  • Alcohol can be served, but it must be with a meal
  • Tables spaced out minimum of 6ft
  • Hours through 10PM Sunday to Thursday, 11PM Friday, Saturday
  • Must have open side walls, can have a top
  • No live entertainment
  • No bar area
  • Except for restroom visits and takeout orders, the indoors is closed for public use
  • Customer facing employees must wear masks
  • No parties larger than 10 people

“I do not want to be in an adversarial position with our Governor.  I know some other local officials have taken those positions.  I don’t intend to do that here in Joliet.  Ultimately I believe every elected official that I’ve dealt with including the Governor is doing what they think is best for our community moving forward.” Mayor O’Dekirk said Friday morning.

“There are disagreements, and they seem to be growing about what steps we need to take moving forward.  But what we’re seeing here locally with this document is a plan, it’s a reasonable plan.  We believe it falls within the parameters of the guideline the Governor had given.” The Mayor said.

Those guidelines include social distancing efforts, proper PPE and how the public interacts with one another during the pandemic.

The plan sets various sets of guidelines which would be submitted to restaurants for employers, employees and the restaurants themselves.  One example used during today’s press conference included the omissions of reusable items like salt and pepper shakers and laminated menus. 

For restaurants without an outdoor dining area, the City would allow restaurants with a parking lot to expand and create outdoor dining options for customers up to 25% of the parking lot.  If a business doesn’t own its own your parking lot, they would have to get permission from the property owner.

Mayor O’Dekirk hopes to get approval from the Governor soon.  Other business plans and Church plans will be submitted as well soon by the City.

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