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The government and customers can help small businesses overcome losses from the new restrictions.

Per Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s order, bars and restaurants in East Central Illinois have reverted back to Phase 3 restrictions that mean no more indoor dining or drinking until the latest wave of COVID-19 cases ease.

It’s another reminder that the coronavirus is unrelenting and can’t be stopped with wishful thinking or half-measures, particularly as the weather is changing and people are spending more time indoors where the virus is known to thrive.

Some business owners have threatened to ignore the governor’s order and offer indoor service anyway, placing themselves in legal jeopardy and putting their employees and customers at a greater risk of contracting the virus. We sympathize with their economic circumstance and understand their will to fight back. But such civil disobedience can have weighty ramifications on the local health care system and on already-harried front-line workers.

Besides, it’s unfair to the business owners who are doing what they can to follow the rules and keep all of us safe.

Here’s what can be done to help bars, restaurants and other businesses affected by the new restrictions:

  • Make use of Illinois’ Business Interruption Grants program that includes grants of $5,000 to $150,000 for small businesses suffering economically because of the virus. In the first round of grants this summer, nearly $1 million was awarded to area businesses. Another $1.5 million is in the pipeline to local entrepreneurs in round two. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis until all funds are exhausted.
  • Consult with the Illinois Small Business Development Center at the Champaign County Economic Development Corp., where assistance is available on applying for grants and loans to get through economic hardships.
  • Encourage federal, state and local officials to provide more financial and reasonable regulatory relief to small businesses under duress.
  • Urge customers to dine outdoors as weather permits, and make regular use of carryout and delivery options.
  • Tip wait staff generously and let them and business owners know that you appreciate what they do for the community.

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