Brass Pig Smoke & Alehouse in downtown Bloomington
Facebook / Bloomington-Normal Restaurant Scene

Bloomington restaurants and bars will have an opportunity to add or expand outdoor seating in the near future.

City Manager Tim Gleason has been given the authority to temporarily close streets, city parking lots and alleys to help businesses expand their outdoor footprints. The amendment to the COVID-19 Local Emergency Declaration was approved during Tuesday night's virtual City Council meeting.

“We want our businesses to survive and thrive; we want people to come back to work,” said Mayor Tari Renner. “But we want it to be safely.”

Breanna Grow / WGLT

Police chiefs for Normal, Bloomington and Illinois State University say they have not recorded any incidents of black residents being harassed for wearing masks in public.


Parking enforcement in downtown Bloomington could see some changes later this year.

A proposal by City Council member Jamie Mathy would extend enforcement hours into the evening with current employees working staggered shifts to cover the extra time. The plan was one of three initiatives proposed by Mathy during Monday night’s virtual Committee of the Whole meeting.


Some Bloomington restaurants and bars are getting the chance to have the cost of their liquor licenses reduced.

Normal signage
Staff / WGLT

Projections made by the Town of Normal’s finance department anticipate a $10.4 million loss in the general fund, but officials say a strong fiscal position entering the pandemic will enable the town to get through the economic downturn.


The Bloomington City Council heard presentations Monday night from several social service agencies addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as numerous citizens upset over last week’s vote against a possible direct aid program.

Council members in grid

With a unanimous vote, no public comment and little discussion beyond praise for city staff, the Bloomington City Council passed the city’s fiscal year 2021 budget Wednesday night.

Bloomington-Normal elementary and middle school students are adapting to extended online classes
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Turns out kids do miss school. Well, most of them.

Dan Brady at mic
Staff / WGLT

During a public conference call Tuesday night, state Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, said his office has been inundated with calls from individuals and businesses looking for help applying for unemployment benefits through the Illinois Department of Employment Security

Bloomington VFW
Eric Stock / WGLT

Club organizations like the VFW can now offer delivery and curbside pickup of alcohol in Bloomington.

The City Council granted the permission during its virtual meeting Monday night, voting to modify the local emergency order approved on March 26. The amendment extends the temporary curbside and delivery alcohol allowance for restaurants and bars to club liquor license holders during the state’s shelter-in-place directive.

Davis and LaHood tour testing site
Staff / WGLT

U.S. Reps. Rodney Davis and Darin LaHood said Thursday federal funding to operate the regional COVID-19 testing site in Bloomington will not end on Friday as previously planned.

Miss_Millions / Creative Commons

Sex offenders who have completed their sentences but are still being held in Illinois prisons should be released as part of the effort to reduce the state’s prison population during the COVID-19 crisis, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court.

Monica Ybarra, corporate counsel for TBS Factoring Service, holds a sign announcing "sandwiches for semis" along I-35 near the Hefner Road exit in Oklahoma City, Friday, March 20, 2020.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

Truck drivers practice social distancing all the time. They drive alone. They often sleep in their cabs. You might think the pandemic-required isolation would be business as usual. But they still must eat, shower, and use the bathrooms.

Softball team celebrates
ISU Athletics

With Illinois State University essentially closing its campus due to COVID-19, it has meant canceling spring sports competition for the rest of the semester. 

Exterior of a funeral home
Beck Memorial Home

Funeral homes are facing a new reality of mourning in trying to follow social-distancing guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic.

Exterior of Heartland campus
Carleigh Gray / WGLT

Heartland Community College will not hold a traditional graduation ceremony this spring, opting instead for a virtual alternative commencement amid the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

As Illinois State University wrapped up its first week of online classes, ISU Chief Technology Officer Charley Edamala said the transition from face-to-face education to online instruction amid the pandemic so far has been smooth.

McLean County Jail
Eric Stock / WGLT

McLean County Sheriff Jon Sandage has said he does not plan to release inmates at the McLean County jail in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.


OSF HealthCare has launched an updated digital solution to help educate and triage people who are concerned about COVID-19 and risking exposure to go to a doctor's office.

Bloomington and Normal fire chiefs said they have adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) for now. That includes masks, gloves, and gowns.