Mt. Carmel Business Owners Worried About New Restrictions

In some Illinois counties, more restrictions are being put on businesses starting Thursday Oct. 22, to help slow the spread of Covid-19 after a sustained positivity rate of eight percent in region five over the weekend. And in downtown Mt. Carmel, some business owners don’t know if they’ll make it through the end of the year if the restrictions remain in place.

Posted: Oct 22, 2020 5:32 PM

Will my business survive the winter?


This is what restaurant owners are facing as they must close indoor dining once again.


And with casinos being allowed to open at 25 percent capacity -- restaurant owners are deciding whether or not to add gaming machines just to have customers.


“Now, there’s certain people that have restaurants in town and because of their convictions, they will probably never have gambling machines there but because of that — they’re not going to have anybody in their dining room," said Jesse Kasinger, owner of Famous J's.


Other restrictions include outdoor services at restaurants closing at 11 p.m. -- with reservations required.


Casinos must also close down then, while party buses are no more.


And on top of the new restrictions, business owners are dealing with being short staffed due to a state mandate that even employees who test negative for Covid-19 have to quarantine for 14 days if they’ve been in contact with someone positive.


“Well, when you have a crew the size that we have — a small business like ours — 1 or 2 people being out — makes a huge difference — it really puts a burden on the business and everyone else who works for me," Kasinger said.


The Wabash County Chamber of Commerce is also impacted, unable to have events with more than twenty five people.


"We like to be, you know, out and about with our business community,” said Lesley Hipsher, executive director of the Wabash County Chamber of Commerce. “So, it's really kind of almost locked us away to where we really can't do a lot of those things."


As for now, jewelry store owner Darrin Gottman is hoping the restrictions will be lifted before the holidays.


“It’s been hanging over our heads all summer — you know, buying up inventory to have a well stocked store for the Christmas season,” Gottman said. “It’s been very difficult this year and we’ve kind of gone on the positive side — we’ve bit the bullet — stocked our store — we have our inventory in and we have more coming, so one way or another we’re going to make it happen.”


The Wabash County Health Department is tasked with enforcing these restrictions, which may remain in place for more than one week, depending on if the positivity rate lowers.

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