ST CHARLES, Ill. — It’s been a rollercoaster 24 hours for bars and restaurants in St. Charles after the city reinstated late-night permits only to have state officials restrict hours and ban indoor service due to rising COVID-19 infection rates Tuesday.
The mayor suspended late-night permits in St. Charles back in August, ordering bars and restaurants who usually stayed open until 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. to close at midnight instead.
Gina Pearson manages 2nd Street Tavern, one of 25 businesses that paid for a late-night permit earlier this year.
“About 24 percent of our income comes between 12 and 2; for a little place like this it’s a substantial amount, it pays the rent and utility bills,” Pearson said.
Bars and restaurants have been advocating for the city to bring the permits back for weeks, and the City Council voted unanimously to do exactly that Monday night.
“We looked at the numbers, they did go down; they asked us to trust them so that’s what we did,” Ald. Maureen Lewis said.
But the state is hitting the brakes on the celebrations, at least for now.
After the 7-day coronavirus test positivity rate for the region including Kane and DuPage counties passed the state’s “failsafe” level of 8 percent for a third consecutive day, state officials imposed tougher restrictions including requirements for bars and restaurants to close at 11 p.m. Indoor dining is also not allowed.
Pearson said she understands the reasoning, and she’s just happy to have their late-night permit back in hand.
“I appreciate what the governor is doing, and trying to save lives is a good thing; that’s number one,” Pearson said. “It still feels good to get our late night back and in the future at least when we could come back we will be able to stay open ‘til 2 a.m.; you just have to be positive about it.”
The new restrictions will remain in place until the average 7-day positivity rate measured over three consecutive days drops below 6.5 percent. More stringent measures could be put in place if it remains above 8.5 % two weeks from now.