CU Bars and Restaurants Adjust to Mask Mandate

By Sammi St. Leger

Customers at bars and restaurants in Champaign-Urbana adjust to constant mask wearing, following Governor J.B. Pritzker’s new mandate.

On Aug. 25, Pritzker announced a new policy for mask wearing throughout the State of Illinois. Now, customers must have a mask on whenever servers interact with them. This applies to customers picking up take-out food as well. Masks must be worn properly, covering both an individual’s mouth as nose and may be removed once customers are seated outside. However, customers must be diligent in making sure to put on masks each time servers approach their table. 

“It is the best idea,” said Mary, assistant manager at Seven Saints, a bar and grill located at 32 E Chester St, Champaign, Ill. 

This policy was passed in order to keep servers safe. Previously, many bars and restaurants required servers to wear masks. However, this only protected customers from potential exposure to COVID-19 – leaving servers to hope customers hadn’t been in contact with anyone positive. Pritzker’s new policy seeks to prevent essential workers in the service industry from contracting COVID-19. With increased mask wearing on both sides, it is hoped the spread at bars and restaurants will decrease. This allows for many establishments to stay open and servers to remain at work countering high unemployment numbers throughout the nation.  

This is just one of the many adjustments bars and restaurants have had to make following the ever-changing guidelines as different regions in Illinois respond to positivity rates. Lower COVID-19 numbers in the CU area have allowed for less restrictions, but as numbers rise, it is essential for establishments to follow policy. 

At Seven Saints, the downtown bar and grill offers outdoor seating and follows a policy of refusing service to anyone rejecting to wear masks at their establishment. 

Mary explained that customers not wearing masks became inclined to follow Seven Saint’s policy once it was explained.

“I definitely think it’s hit or miss just like with anywhere you go throughout the state especially of, people don’t like being told what to do. But I mean once you kind of explain to them that’s how they’ll get service, they’re usually very compliant,” Mary said.

Now, it is up to restaurants and bars to enforce this policy and citizens to take precautions to keep workers safe while they enjoy a night out.