Local businesses anticipate customer influx as Illinois moves into Bridge to Phase 5

Local businesses anticipate customer influx as Illinois moves into Bridge to Phase 5



Cameron Krasucki

With Phase 5 starting to come into play, people are still receiving their first dose of the vaccine. People who are vaccinated are encouraged to be cautious around those who are not vaccinated in small spaces.

Illinois plans on working toward the fifth and final phase of the Restore Illinois reopening plan as more residents receive the COVID-19 vaccine. As a result, many local businesses are hopeful for greater sales with the increased flow of customers.

This stage involves the reopening of all sectors of the economy, allowing businesses and recreation to resume regular operations. Large gatherings such as conventions, festivals and other such events will also be allowed to take place.

The State of Illinois Coronavirus Response website states that Illinois will proceed further using an approach that falls between the mitigations in Phase 4 and the new normal of Phase 5, as per the recommendations and guidelines from public health experts.

“This Bridge to Phase 5 will allow for higher capacity limits and increased business operations, before public health experts tell us it is safe to move to the new normal that Phase 5 will bring,” said the website.

The change is already visible with increasing numbers of activities available and more people feeling comfortable going out for restaurants, shopping and social events this summer.

“I’m pleased with how vaccination is going across the state, but I would rather this was taken on a regional or county-level basis and took into account both vaccination rates and case numbers,” said Rebecca Lee Smith, epidemiologist and associate professor in Veterinary Medicine.

However, certain precautions must be undertaken as per Smith, who urged all those who aren’t vaccinated to get vaccinated as soon as possible and wear a mask in public and get tested regularly in the meantime. 

“If you are vaccinated, but have close contacts with people who aren’t, I encourage you to be cautious in crowded indoor environments and get tested if you’re symptomatic,” Smith said. 

Local businesses are also looking forward to improved capacities of in-person customers after the reduced demand during the pandemic.

“Since we needed to keep the business afloat, we ramped up our online orders and partnered with third party apps,” said Joseph Watson, assistant manager at Maize.

Watson added that the management decided to keep the restaurant open during these times, which offers limited seating.

“We have already seen an influx in business over the past few weeks because of graduation celebrations and Mother’s Day,” Watson said, regarding recent changes and the anticipated improvement in business once all restrictions are lifted.

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