The bars, restaurants, gaming houses and clubs holding liquor licenses in the city of Ottawa in general don’t like the 10 p.m. closing time imposed Saturday by Mayor Dan Aussem’s emergency order, but they are following along its guidelines nonetheless.
The measure, designed to fight the coronavirus pandemic by reducing chances for people to gather and enhancing social distancing while still allowing such businesses to stay open, went through it’s first night this past weekend for all places holding B, C, D and R licenses. Violation of the order could generate fines and suspension of revocation of that liquor license.
Chad Lucas, proprietor of the Court Street Pub, said his patrons have been receptive to the pandemic restrictions and Saturday night was no exception. He believes the virus is “not going away unless certain steps are taken” and it was only logical for the city to get out ahead of whatever actions the governor’s office might take.
“I don’t think any business like to reduce its hours, which creates a loss of revenue,” Lucas said, “but from our standpoint, it also makes sense. It makes sense for us, it makes sense for the city and it makes sense for everyone in the state of Illinois … The point of the re-opening, in my opinion, was to allow for lunch and dinner revenue to be brought in and still try to limit the major crowds, but as a bar, we have only so much control over actually limiting those crowds.
“It’s not like its a good thing or that we’re happy about it, but we can 1,000% see the city’s point of view, and I don’t see how anyone that thinks logically about this can be that upset.”
At the R Grotto Restaurant and Bar, there was a sign posted stating the earlier closing time and that may have caused the usual Saturday night walk-in business to be slower than usual, though the carry-out and delivery portions were unaffected and steady as normal, according to one of its managers, Jamie Ajster.
“It seems to have scared people, I think,” Ajster said. “We didn’t have any people even try to walk in after we put the sign up saying that we were complying with the order. There just wasn’t much foot traffic at all, really … It’s disappointing to see that the places outside the city limits were still open. Other than that, I understand the need for this. We have to do what we have to do.”
The order will remain in effect until further notice.
Ottawa has the second most cases of coronavirus in La Salle County at 116 since the beginning of the pandemic, including 10 new cases Sunday and 48 new cases in the past two weeks. There have been 3,886 tests collected among Ottawa-area residents, which means about 3% of tests have come back positive for the coronavirus.
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