By Connor Ciecko
The popular campustown bar Joe’s Brewery has decided to reopen today despite the Chancellor’s order for all undergraduate student to quarantine still continuing until next Wednsday.
The bar previously shut down last week following a Massmail, stating that the bar was standing “solidarity with the universities recent refocus on slowing the spread of Covid 19 in our community.” Other campus bars, such as KAM’s and Red Lion did not make such a gesture and actively continued to encourage students to come out, effectively encouraging them to break the campuswide mandate.
In an Instagram post on Wednesday, Joe’s announced that they would be reopening today after seeing the “trends in positive cases.” Patrons at the bar are, however, required to have an entry status in the Safer Illinois app and are required to have their exposure and contact tracing notifications turned on.
Though the bars are requiring masks and for guests to remain seated in the outdoor sections, the decision to remain open when the campus is currently experiencing a pivotal time in case abatement is controversial. Jones’s order to remain inside except for critical activities is still in effect until the 16th, and students going to the bars is in direct defiance of this order. Despite using the order to have more teeth when dealing with high-risk activities, the university seemingly cannot enforce the rules that they set against these students.
When asked what the police can do to uphold the quarantine rules around students going to bars, the University Police Department said that they cannot enforce university rules at the bars as they are private property and are still open to the public, making them out of their jurisdiction unless the mayor issues an emergency order saying otherwise. In a similar statement, Jeff Hamilton, the communication manager for the City of Champaign, responded saying they cannot enforce or enact rules specifically against students, as doing so “would violate discrimination clauses.” The only enforceable rule is that the bars must maintain outdoor-only spaces, and this rule has been followed thus far.
SHIELD testing data shows the most recent case positivitiy rate as 0.7%, down from a maximum of nearly 3% last week.