ST. CLAIR COUNTY, Ill. (KMOV.com) -- It's been business as usual in the COVID era in the Metro East.
Masking, social distancing and limited capacity rules are still in place, and to move forward into the next reopening phase, the Illinois Department of Public Health is relying on state-wide metrics to decrease. Those metrics include vaccinations, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Those metrics used to be measured regionally for reopening, but were changed after indoor dining across the state was allowed months ago.
"The statewide mandate is almost ridiculous. It's hard to implement when we're so close to St. Louis, we have very little to do with Chicago," Terry Davinroy said.
Davinroy is the owner of Ott's Tavern in Millstadt. He's been following COVID-19 protocols very strictly throughout the pandemic, and says business has been okay, but the profit simply isn't back to normal.
"I wanna maintain safety for everyone in the community, so I get that. I need 100 percent capacity just to make money and subsist. However, I don't have the workers," Davinroy explained.
Davinroy has even tried to incentivize his staff to get vaccinated, in order to come back to work. News 4 has heard from several business owners on both sides of the river that hiring is their biggest issue right now. Illinois Governor JB Pritzker says hospitalization rates are keeping Illinois from reopening. However the Metro East is seeing steadily decreasing hospitalization numbers.
St. Clair, Randolph, Monroe, and Madison County have seen decreasing hospitalization for months, but business owners are still operating at that 50 percent capacity.
"We're very close to opening the state up," Governor Pritzker said when presented with that data.
But in reality, the state is not close to reopening. Governor Pritzker said statewide hospitalization numbers must flatten or decrease for nearly a month before relaxing restrictions. Starting April 27, numbers did start to go down for a few days. However, they're now creeping back up.
You can see those numbers here.
"We're very very hopeful that we'll be able to move into that next phase, the bridge phase, and then phase five which is really opening everything up about 28 days after that," Pritzker explained.
He's referring to those hospitalization numbers, but restaurant owners tell News 4, they're simply trying to hang on.
"We're hoping that we get through this and the governor does some things that will help us save our businesses and work with us, but we also need the general public to acknowledge 'hey we're still behind you and appreciate what you're doing and we support you'," Davinroy continued.