QUINCY -- Promising to continue the city's response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic upheaval, members of the Quincy City Council unanimously voted Monday to extend a series of 26 guidelines first implemented in late May that were set to expire as the state moves into the Phase Four of the Restore Illinois Plan.
Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore said he has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from restaurant and bar owners regarding the locally-imposed guidelines.
"They can continue to have outdoor dining since they are limited capacity on the inside. They can still serve food and drinks outdoors," Moore said of the locally-imposed guidelines, which detail how patrons enter restaurants to the hours that a bar or restaurant can be in operation to how the tables and chairs can be placed on city sidewalks, if owners opt to use that space to create more outdoor seating.
Per the guidelines, social distancing shall be observed at all times and access to beer garden areas will only be allowed through an outside entrance. Any tables that are used must be at least six-feet apart, as measured from the edge of the table to the edge of the table. If the tables are placed on a sidewalk, then a four-foot pedestrian walkway must be provided at all times. Businesses will be allowed to place tables on nonadjacent locations, if they receive the written permission from the property owners and if the business has filed an encroachment permit with the city of Quincy. No tables can be placed across the street from the bar or restaurant.
"I believe all bars and restaurants will have, or may have already, received a letter from (Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker) stating that he is not taking what is happening in Texas and Florida off the table, so business owners need to be mindful of occupancy limits and of people gathering in tight quarters. We need to make sure that no matter what we continue to social distance," Moore said.
Following a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis both ordered the state's bars and nightclubs to close after consulting with public health officials in both states.
Moore said the city may be forced to rollback its guidelines if businesses are caught repeatedly violating them and may consider waiving additional ordinances to help other businesses.
"If there are creative things that we learn about that other communities are doing or if there is a business that has an idea that requires us to waive an ordinance, then we will probably allow that. If there are establishments that take advantage of these guidelines, then we may need to reinstitute some of the ordinances that have waived," said Moore, who added that many of the guidelines help businesses but also help preserve neighborhood integrity.
"We want to make sure that people who have houses near these businesses can still sleep and their neighborhood is not drastically changed by these ordinances. We don't want to get any disturbances in these neighborhoods." Moore said.
An example listed in the guidelines is that a business may be forced to reduce its hours of operation if the Quincy Police Department issues more than one peace disturbance to the business. The decision to reduce a business' hours rests with Quincy Police Chief Rob Copley.
The guidelines also temporarily waive multiple city ordinances including off-street parking requirements and the city's open container law, so long as an employee of the restaurant or bar is outside while the alcohol is being served or that the storefront windows of the building allow for an employee inside to monitor the outside area.
The city's noise ordinance is waived through Sept. 1, though restrictions remain in place barring live music unless the city issues a special permit and the limited use of pre-recorded music until 10 p.m.
Other food and beverage industry guidelines include barring outdoor food preparation unless already permitted by the Adams County Health Department and the Quincy Fire Department; making the business responsible for nightly trash pick-up; mandating that all alcoholic beverages be consumed on premise and ordered outdoors; reminding businesses that they must continue to adhere to the city's plumbing code; that all outdoor furniture must be securely fastened or in-place in the case of severe weather; that parties larger than six people must be seated separately; and that cover fees at bars can not be higher than they were prior to COVID-19.
The council also voted to allow the closure of public streets, public alleys and public parking lots if approved by the City Council.
Non-food and beverage industry guidelines approved Monday night include: resuming charging fares on Quincy Transit Lines on July 7; resuming rent collection from Blue Haven Cafe, the restaurant at Quincy Regional Airport, on Aug. 1; and re-instituting the city's policy of disconnecting water service for failure to pay beginning on Aug. 3.
Quincy's Director of Utilities and Engineering Jeffrey Conte said the city has more than $500,000 in outstanding water bills from about 2,300 customers.
Moore said failure to pay these bills will impact the city's ability to maintain and make improvements to the city's water system in the future.
In other business, the Quincy City Council unanimously approved a permit request from Re-Open Adams County to host a street fair on Front Street from Broadway to Maine Street on July 4 from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. The council voted 13-1 to pay Klingner and Associates $121,500 to redesign the Quincy Regional Barge Dock. Farha was the lone dissenting vote. Alderman John Mast, R-5, cast the only dissenting vote on a purchase request from Central Services for 500 roll-out trash carts.