CHAMPAIGN — After photos circulated over the weekend showing crowded Campustown bars, city and county leaders said they plan to meet Thursday to discuss how to bring nightlife spots in compliance with local public health rules.
“Something can be done about that, and will be done about that,” said Julie Pryde, the administrator of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District.
Matt Roeschley, Champaign’s deputy liquor commissioner, said he’ll know more Thursday about what possible steps could be taken.
“We’re looking to collaborate with the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, as we have with previous phases,” he said.
Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin said she’ll attend Thursday’s meeting, though she isn’t aware of bars in Urbana being overcrowded.
“To my knowledge, it hasn’t been an issue in Urbana,” she said.
Marlin said Urbana will continue emphasizing social distancing and wearing masks, particularly with Restore Illinois Phase 4 allowing limited indoor dining.
“We’ve emphasized all along that public safety is paramount,” she said. “And when you move indoors, it gets a lot more important.”
Last week, Kam’s and Red Lion owner Scott Cochrane acknowledged that it would be difficult to keep customers six feet apart.
“It’s not easy. They’re college kids,” he said.
Asked on Monday about the crowds this past weekend, he declined to comment.
In a statement, the ownership group of Joe’s Brewery said the bar hasn’t opened indoor seating and is “absolutely willing to do more, if asked.”
“This could include pool testing, random testing or any other helpful practices as advised by public health professionals,” the statement read.
The group went on to say that Joe’s already checks staff temperatures, records every patron’s name and phone number, tests two staffers each week and requires staffers to inform management of any travel from Champaign.
Among its other safety measures, Joe’s also said it requires staff to wear masks, spaces tables out, monitors capacity and has dedicated staff members who remind customers about social distancing guidelines.
“We are holding weekly staff meetings to discuss any changes that need to be made during the upcoming week,” the statement said.
In Phase 4 of the state’s reopening plan, restaurants and bars have to limit parties to groups of 10 or less, space tables 6 feet apart and keep capacity at 25 percent.
The Illini Inn is planning to reopen July 9.
“We will obviously adhere to all guidelines set for us and see how it goes,” Illini Inn General Manager Josiah Pearson said. “Just getting open will be a big step for us.”
And at Green Street Cafe, owner Dan Nusbaum said last week that he’s not sure if people will want to get drinks inside.
“It probably varies person to person,” he said. “There’s still a lot of people who won’t come out if they’re frequently around parents or an older generation.”
During Phase 3, Green Street Cafe created patio seating for 32 customers in its parking lot.
“It’s been hit-or-miss. It’s kinda weather dependent,” Nusbaum said.