Peoria Businesses Can Operate At Full Capacity With Phase 5 Arriving
Businesses, festivals and conventions can soon operate at pre-pandemic numbers. The Peoria City/County Health Department confirmed during Thursday's briefing that Peoria will be headed into Phase 5 starting June 11.
Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford counties had 86 new COVID-19 cases this week. That's the first time since July 2020 that new case numbers were under 100 a week. Total cases are now up to 45,477.
Peoria saw no new COVID deaths this week, though the Tri-County area overall saw nine fatalities this week.
“The governor spoke about regarding our move to Phase 5 next week, and based on our case count as well as our vaccination rates and our hospital utilization, we consider this very much likely for our community as well,” said Monica Hendrickson, head of the Peoria City/County Health Department.
About 40% of Peoria residents are now vaccinated. There has been a recent increase in people ages 12 to 19 getting their shots.
Phase 5 will allow businesses, festivals and conventions to operate at full capacity. The state coronavirus website says "new health and hygiene practices (should remain) permanently in place."
“I hope that people get back to living what was their normal life and feeling comfortable,” said Chris Setti, CEO of the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council. "That only happens when we continue to see those vaccination numbers rise and the infection rates decline.”
Setti said businesses may be understaffed with Phase 5 on its way, resulting in service that isn’t ideal for customers. But he asked patrons to be patient as establishments adjust.
“Restaurants can go up in capacity, and I think that would be great for them,” Setti said. “They kinda got other issues with staffing. The idea that you can have potentially twice as many customers in your business might be almost onerous to some degree when they haven’t hired the staff they need to accommodate that.”
At the briefing, Setti said people might not be ready to work with the public, a possible cause of the short-staffing. While establishments are allowed to operate at full capacity, they could still require a mask.
Beyond restaurants, Setti said he talked to workers at the Peoria Civic Center, and they’re looking forward to having concerts being booked again and museums in the area being allowed to welcome more guests.
The Tailgate N’ Tallboys event is one of the first events in Peoria with larger crowds. Hendrickson said the event did operate with guidance from the health department as well.