FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS, Illinois (KMOV) — Due to metrics set by the Illinois Health Department, businesses in the Metro East were under strict health guidelines until a few months ago.
One of those guidelines was no indoor dining. Metro East restaurant owners say it was hard to survive off curbside only. Now, restaurants are operating at 50 percent capacity.
“To be sitting at a table without a mask and laughing, makes me feel a little bit more normal, and calm, and a little less stressed out,” Bill Haskins said.
Tuesday, Haskins and his friends dined inside for the first time since the pandemic started.
“Zoom was helpful and we did that quite a bit. I didn’t see them much to be blunt, but now that we’ve had our vaccinations, we’re back playing pickleball and we just started line dancing again,” Haskins explained.
Signature Tap House in Fairview Heights opened just six weeks before the shutdown in March 2020. A majority of its business was done through curbside. The restaurant’s owner, Brandon McGraw, said a grand re-opening was necessary.
“It’s been a rollercoaster over the past 14 months, and we’re hoping we’re able to stay open, which I think we will. I think the more folks that get vaccinated, it’s just gonna keep on where people are feeling more and more comfortable to come out,” McGraw said.
McGraw contributes his past few weeks of success, with indoor dining, to vaccines. He said customers come in all the time saying “I’ve been vaccinated,” and it’s their first time indoor dining in months.
In St. Clair County, nearly 30 percent of its residents are fully vaccinated. ICU bed availability remains above 20 percent, with positivity rates low as well.
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