City Plans to Work with Restaurants and Bars for Outdoor Opening, Too Soon to Decide Fate of 4th of July Just Yet

By Jeremy Coumbes on May 21, 2020 at 2:26pm

Buzz is already starting to build in Jacksonville following Governor Pritzker’s announcement that outdoor seating will be allowed for bars and restaurants in the near future.

The city of Jacksonville is anticipating the move to phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan, which Pritzker repeated yesterday could likely come by May 29th.

Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard says the city is eager to assist local businesses in being able to reopen, and are already discussing both options and potential issues of how outdoor seating could work.

I’ve had a handful of businesses within the city who are interested in doing something, and the city is very open to trying to help them facilitate that. We are kind of in the planning stages right now. We are going to meet internally and talk some things through as far as issues that could evolve like traffic safety and liability and things like that.”

Ezard says his administration is waiting for the official guidelines for reopening from the Illinois Department of Public Health to be released tomorrow so they can have a better idea of how to help businesses reopen safely.

Ezard says the city will work with business owners to help them tailor their plans in order to comply with IDPH guidelines.

We want to help the businesses out any way we can. If they can come up with a solid plan with what they want to do and share it with us, we can kind of go back and forth. We are very open to get things opened up and get things moving again in our town.”

Governor Pritzker said during his announcement of phase 3 modifications yesterday, that all state parks will reopen on May 29th, and camping, boating and other social gatherings of ten people or less will be allowed.

Ezard says as of right now, he does not anticipate any immediate changes to the current procedures at Lake Jacksonville or city parks, however he says he and city department heads will be reviewing phase 3 guidelines in the coming days to determine what adjustments could be made.

We are keeping an eye on it this weekend,and I’ll talk with Brett Gilbreth out at the lake and Adam Fletcher at the parks to get their feedback and ideas on how we can maybe implement even further opening things up. There is definitely more to come on the recreation front.”

Ezard says the city is still taking a wait and see approach to any events for the 4th of July.

He says it is still too early to either comfortably set, or call off entirely, any plans for celebrating the holiday.