Bloomington, Normal Plan To Aid Outdoor Dining As Reopening Moves To Next Phase | WGLT

Bloomington, Normal Plan To Aid Outdoor Dining As Reopening Moves To Next Phase

May 20, 2020

Gov. JB Pritzker said Wednesday he plans to allow bars and restaurants to offer outdoor seating as the state moves toward the next phase of reopening near the end of the month.

Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner said he plans to move quickly to help bars and restaurants expand their outdoor seating.

“We want to have people safely make sure they are able to be patrons of bars and restaurants as soon as possible,” Renner said.

Renner added he plans to use his authority as the city’s liquor commissioner to extend outdoor premises for those establishments, as long as they maintain social distancing guidelines.

“I would call a meeting within 48 hours and I can make this happen and I guarantee you I will make it happen,” Renner said. “We’re not going to fool around.”

Normal Mayor Chris Koos said the town will work with restaurant owners who request zoning variances so they can expand their outdoor seating.

“Do we relax zoning codes and that to help them do that? Yes absolutely,” Koos said.

Koos said that was one of the ideas that arose from a pandemic advisory council he formed to help the community prepare for reopening.

Renner acknowledged it will be difficult to enforce social distancing when it comes to groups of people dining together, as opposed to families who have generally been in quarantine together. 

"We can work it out with (the city's legal department), but I think at the end of the day some of that is going to have to be people taking responsibility for themselves," Renner said.

Pritzker said indoor dining won't be allowed until late June at the earliest.

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