Underage eating becomes a thing

By Tianbin Chen

Another emergency order was imposed on bars in Champaign on September 24th. Champaign Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen issued this emergency order that temporarily sets the entry age at 21 for bars. The only exception is for individuals under 21 to go in bars before 9 p.m. for eating purposes. Once the clock kicks 9 p.m., people younger than 21 must leave. It brings up a completely new idea of underage eating, which impacts the bars in Campustown mostly. 

The reason for this change was unmentioned, but one factor could be that the majority of confirmed cases is people who are under 20. There are 1,921 confirmed cases in groups of people between the ages of 10-20. The second highest number of cases is 1,314 for groups age 20 to 30 until October 1st.  

Starting from the beginning of COVID-19 spread, the State and the City have announced several orders for restaurants and bars. Only in the period since school started, bars have gone through the stages of reopen and reclose. Some bars in Campustown put on signs that ask customers to show IDs when entering after 9 in the evening, others decided to not open due to this change. 

The general manager of Illini Inn, Ben Wagner, claims that it has been already hard to run business during the pandemic, and the restrictions would definitely result in drop in revenue. The City of Champaign does provide a small business COVID-19 relief grant of up to $15,000 to help businesses go through this hard time. This could assist businesses that are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the short-term, but the impact of COVID is foreseeably long-term. 

Ben also states that bars are doing all they can to slow the spread of virus, including proper social distancing and mandating masks-wearing. However, parties in individual’s homes lack restrictions. It is considerably difficult to regulate students in their homes, even with the supervision of police forces and students affairs officers. 

The temporary order did not specify an end day, so bars have to figure out on their own just how to survive through more and more restrictions.