With Chillicothe no longer enforcing Gov. JB Pritzker’s Tier 3 COVID-19 restriction prohibiting indoor dining, Track Inn Restaurant co-owner Linda Callahan feels a degree of stress has been lifted for her 18 employees.
The City Council on Monday repealed an ordinance approved last year that required enforcement of the COVID restrictions, also voting to dismiss citations issued to Track Inn and Banana’s Beach Bar.
“It's a relief. It helped make my employees a little bit more relaxed today,” Callahan said Tuesday. “I mean, we've all been under a lot of stress over it and we just feel like we're actually able to breathe a little bit easier right now.”
The issue of the bars’ repeated violations prompted a lengthy public safety committee discussion last week regarding citations issued in November and December.
Linda and Kevin Callahan purchased the 43-year-old establishment last May and reopened the tavern at the end of July. Linda Callahan said Track Inn has continued to seat customers indoors because their workers rely on those paychecks as the pandemic has taken a toll on the local economy.
“Some of them had two jobs and have had two jobs for quite a while before they even came to work for me,” she said. “Now their other jobs do not exist, so this was their only source of income.
“And as a lot of people have told us, trying to get on unemployment right now is extremely difficult if you can get it, and it only lasts for so long. So it was really a lot for them to just, make sure that they were able to keep a roof over their heads and food in their and their kids’ bellies.”
Despite the city dropping its enforcement, the businesses still could face repercussions from the Peoria City/County Health Department’s noncompliance referrals made to the State’s Attorney’s office.
Callahan said the tavern’s capacity is 60 guests (12 four-person tables and 12 bar stools). She said employees are required to wear masks and they are observing social distancing as best they can – although the tavern’s small dining area limits the ability.
“We are on closer to a 3-foot span,” she said. “Six feet is, from what I had been explained, a suggestion and when 6 feet is almost from one side of my restaurant to the other, that’s kind of hard to do.
“We are very diligent about everything we touch, cleaning the tables, cleaning the chairs, top sides. We try to make it clean for everybody.”
Chillicothe Mayor Donald Z. White declined an interview request. Messages left at Banana’s Beach Bar were not returned.
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