ST. CHARLES – Restaurants and bars will be able to use their temporary outdoor dining areas until the end of October.
At Monday's St. Charles City Council meeting, aldermen voted to allow restaurants and bars to continue using their temporary outdoor dining areas until the end of October. In May, aldermen approved the criteria for these temporary outdoor dining areas, including that tables must be six feet apart as part of health and safety guidelines during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Aldermen had created the temporary outdoor dining areas because restaurants and bars at the time were not allowed to use their indoor spaces. On Friday, the state moved into phase 4 of Gov. JB Prizker's "Restore Illinois" plan which allows for restaurants and bars to have indoor dining but with capacity limits.
The city also closed a portion of First Street to vehicles to increase outdoor dining opportunities. First Street is closed to motor vehicle traffic from Main Street to the entrance of the parking garage.
In addition, the city closed a portion of Walnut Avenue to accommodate outdoor dining at Flagship on the Fox restaurant.
Alter Brewing President Ken Henricks thanked city officials for created the temporary outdoor dining areas. Alter Brewing + Kitchen recently opened on South First Street.
"Without it, I don't even want to think where these restaurants would be today," Henricks said.
St. Charles Mayor Ray Rogina said people need to continue wearing face coverings and maintain social distancing to avoid a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases, like some other states are experiencing.
"That's going to be key to us keeping this thing rolling through the rest of the summer into the fall and to hopefully bring you guys back to some semblance of what could have been without the pandemic," Rogina said.
Third Ward Alderman William Turner also told Jenna Sawicki, executive director of the St. Charles Business Alliance, to remind businesses they need to strictly abide by the rules that the city set up. Sawicki said she has been keeping in contact with the businesses.
"We're in agreement," she said. "We know that we all need to do this the right way and be in this together in order to not go backwards."
Hector Lopez, of Francesca's By The River restaurant in St. Charles, also thanked aldermen for creating the temporary outdoor dining program.
"It has helped bring back more staff," Lopez said. "If it wasn't for the outdoor dining, we wouldn't be anywhere near where we are now."