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Cities Issue Outdoor Seating Guidelines For Restaurants As Illinois Enters ‘Phase Three’

Bronze statue Mr. Eggwards sporting a face covering at his seat outside The Esquire in Downtown Champaign.

As the state of Illinois begins allowing outdoor dining at restaurants Friday, cities are issuing guidance on how restaurants can expand their available outdoor seating.

Rob Kowalski, Assistant Planning and Development Director for the City of Champaign, says officials had just a few days to write their guidelines, after Governor J.B. Pritzker announced late last week that outdoor dining would be available at restaurants as part of “Phase 3” of the Restore Illinois plan.

Kowalski says the goal was to balance increased business for restaurants with the health and safety of patrons.

“We are as desperate as everybody else to have business open again in some form,” Kowalski said, “but we want to do so in a way that is safe for customers, safe for employees, and also understands our city resources.”

Brian Moline talks with Rob Kowalski with the City of Champaign about outdoor dining guidelines.

You can find more details on outdoor dining guidelines in Champaign, Urbana, and Danville below:

City of Champaign

Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen issued Emergency Order 20-18 on Wednesday. It is a three-part plan that allows the following:

  • The temporary expansion of the City’s popular Outdoor Café program for the sale and consumption of food and beverage on public outdoor spaces near existing bars and restaurants, including the use of certain sidewalks, streets, loading zones and parking spaces. Outdoor Cafés will be permitted to operate from 8 am to 10 pm daily.
  • Bars and restaurants who have privately owned parking lots or other vacant outdoor space to temporarily expand their premises for the sale and consumption of food and beverage in those areas. Food and beverage service in these expanded outdoor areas will be permitted from 8 am to 10 pm daily.
  • It establishes provisions for three “Picnic Parks” on City streets and right-of-way in Downtown Champaign to allow for the comfortable consumption of takeout food by customers of Downtown restaurants. Work on setting up the Picnic Parks will begin this week and they are expected to be available for the use of takeout customers next week. They will be open during lunch and dinner hours and will close at 9:00 pm daily. Alcohol will not be permitted within the Picnic Parks. The Picnic Parks will be located at:
    • Chester Street between Walnut Street and University Avenue.
    • Eastern section of Park Avenue between Neil Street and Randolph Street.
    • Southern section of the City parking lot at Neil Street and Washington Street.
One of Champaign’s three “Picnic Parks” for outdoor dining on Chester Street. City of Champaign

City of Urbana

Mayor Diane Marlin issued guidance for restaurants to allow outdoor dining. Restaurants who wish to do so need to fill out a COVID-19 Outdoor Seating Permit Application. All existing sidewalk cafe permits are repealed and replaced with this new outdoor dining permit to comply with Governor Pritzker’s reopening guidelines.

The City of Urbana is not closing any streets for outdoor dining, and will not be permitting live music at this time.

Restaurants will be asked to provide the following information when they apply for outdoor seating:

  • Narrative – you will be asked to provide a brief description of your plans for: 
    • Storage and removal of exterior trash and litter
    • Restrooms for patrons including ADA compliance
    • Hand sanitation for patrons
    • Accommodating waiting patrons
    • Contact tracing
  • Site Plan – you will be asked to provide the following detail on your plan:
    • Proposed outdoor seating area, labeled with the location, size and number of tables and chairs, or any items to be part of the outdoor seating.
    • Location and number of feet of unobstructed space permitting free passage of pedestrian traffic around and through the outdoor seating area.
    • Labels indicating vehicular access; entrances, exits, and vehicular flow, along with handicap accessible parking, curbside pick-up area, and delivery vehicle locations. Depending on your location you may also need to provide parking for patrons.
    • Location of trees, fire hydrants, utility poles, street light poles, parking meters, bus shelters, trash receptacles and any other obstructions or other permanent street fixtures, either existing or proposed, within the outdoor seating area.
    • Location of doors leading from the establishment or abutting buildings.
    • Barricade type and placement, if applicable.
    • Location of tent, if applicable
    • Signage placement –  Phase 3 Business Tool Kit Restaurant and Bars 

City of Danville

Danville Mayor Ricky Williams, Jr. issued the following guidelines for restaurants wishing to provide outdoor seating:

  • Outdoor space must be established on the property owned/leased by or adjacent to the original business.
  • Businesses should follow the guidelines set forth by the IDPH (Illinois Department of Public Health). For example, table settings and/or individual seats must be spaced at least 6 feet apart.
  • Table settings and/or individual seats must have at least a 5 ft. setback from roads (excluding parking spaces) and must not impede pedestrian traffic on sidewalks by allowing at least 3 feet for passersby.
  • No objects are to be placed in a fashion where the vision of motorists is blocked or impaired.
  • Private and non-owned parking lots (with landlord permission) may be used. We strongly recommend cordoning the space off with stanchions or temporary fencing.
  • Consumption of alcoholic beverages outdoors must be done within the space owned or leased by the business. Sale or consumption of alcohol on a property that is not owned or leased by the business is strictly prohibited.

Follow Brian on Twitter @BMolineWILL.

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Brian Moline

Brian Moline is the Managing Editor of Illinois Newsroom and host of Morning Edition for Illinois Public Media/WILL. He's been with WILL since 2015, after a long stint at WDWS-AM in Champaign where he covered both news and sports for more than a decade. If you have story or interview ideas, you can reach Brian at bmoline@illinois.edu.

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