As our region moves in to Phase 3 of the governor's Restore Illinois plan on May 29th, which gives bars and restaurants the option to provide outdoor seating, the City of Champaign is working through some options for making this possible. Here is what they are developing, per their press release:
First, the City will coordinate with those establishments that can provide outdoor dining via the City’s current Outdoor Café Program, located primarily in downtown, to determine how seating can be provided in compliance with the state’s new guidelines. In cases where the typical outdoor café layouts cannot be accommodated, the City is committed to working with business owners to find alternative solutions.
Second, planning is underway to create three “Downtown Picnic Parks” on portions of closed streets where customers will be able to enjoy carryout from local restaurants. This is being developed in collaboration with the Champaign Park District and would involve closing some minor streets in the downtown area.
Third, plans are being developed to allow private parking lots at restaurants citywide to be used for outdoor dining where available and as allowed under the state’s pending guidelines.
The City also plans to maintain the popular Curbside Pickup Program which has served restaurants well in Champaign since March and will continue for the foreseeable future.
“The City is working very quickly to finalize plans so our local restaurants can reopen safely using outdoor dining spaces,” said Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen. “We’re committed to finding innovative new ways to support our restaurant community and provide opportunities for the reopening in a safe and responsible way that is consistent with the state’s guidelines.”
Prior to the Governor’s announcement, the City of Champaign was already preparing plans for the reopening of restaurants, but Wednesday’s announcement accelerated that process. City staff are actively working to complete those plans now, but some clarification regarding the Governor’s announcement is needed in order to finalize those plans. That additional guidance is expected to be released by the state in the near future, after which the details of the City’s plans will be finalized so that Champaign’s bars and restaurants will be able to take advantage of the new outdoor dining provisions beginning Friday, May 29.
Top photo by Anna Longworth.