Restaurants and bars in Homewood and Flossmoor can begin indoor service if they choose after state health officials announced Saturday that Region 10 moved from Tier 2 to Tier 1 COVID-19 mitigation restrictions.
The news might be welcome by struggling businesses and by patrons who have resisted the state's tight restrictions, which were imposed Nov. 20 as infection numbers were skyrocketing.
On Nov. 27, Homewood Mayor Richard Hofeld sent a letter to restaurants in the village warning them to comply with the restrictions. Before the Board of Trustees' Dec. 8 meeting, the village received seven comments from the public, all criticizing his decision.
Limitations remain, however. Establishments are required to observe occupancy limits of 25% capacity or 25 people per room, whichever is less.
Tables can seat no more than four people at a time and masks must be worn by customers except when actively eating or drinking. Reservations are required and are limited to a maximum of two hours.
Several local restaurants responded to questions about their plans.
Flossmoor Station and Wiley's Grill, both in Flossmoor, were open Saturday for indoor dining. An email from Flossmoor Station listed the Tier 1 restrictions patrons would have to abide by, and Shari Klein, manager of Wiley's Grill, said they would be following the restrictions, too.
"We actually started back at 25% today and had a really good crowd most of the day," said Carolyn Armstrong, owner of Flossmoor Station. "It’s not what we’re used to but anything is better than none."
Joan Sullivan of Culture in Homewood said the team was meeting Saturday night to discuss plans. Culture closed its doors temporarily on Dec. 28 after trying to make things work under Tier 3 restrictions.
Redbird Cafe in Homewood will remain focused on carryout service and its produce market for the time being, according to owner Kim Nolen.
"We would like to ensure the continued health and safety of the community until such time that a greater percentage of folks have had the opportunity to be vaccinated and the downward trend remains," she said.
For his part, Hofeld said on Saturday that he plans to continue supporting local restaurants by ordering takeout meals.
To qualify for Tier 1 restrictions, a region must meet several infection and hospitalization criteria.
- A test positivity rate below 8% for three consecutive days, as measured by the seven-day rolling average.
- Greater than or equal to 20% available staffed ICU and medical/surgical hospital beds for three consecutive days, on a three-day rolling average.
- No sustained increase in the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 for seven out of 10 days, on a seven-day average.
Beginning Jan. 16, the state began using a seven-day rolling average of staffed ICU and medical/surgical hospital beds "to help stabilize the numbers and reduce the variations associated with natural hospital admission trends," according to an Illinois Department of Public Health announcement.
Regional COVID-19 metrics can be found on the IDPH website.
For health questions about COVID-19, call the hotline at 1-800-889-3931 or email [email protected].